Sunday, October 23, 2005

Farmer Story: Jim and Gladys Core Recovering After Hurricane Katrina

This is a a story about my sister and brother-in-law, Gladys and Jim Core who are real survivors and troopers on many levels. Their Farm, Taylor's Happy Oaks Farm is located in Folsom, La. Their crops were wiped out as well as over 50 % of their oak trees. Jim told me today that the downed oaks will probably be there long after he is gone. It's still a mess, everywhere long lines to get a to-go meal at places like Kentucky Fried Chicken. Electricity returned 2 weeks ago to their community after 38 days of running on a generator. But as Jim says, "We had to keep things going, the horses and animals needed to be kept alive and we needed to reseed the crops." They and other farming families have opened a small farmers market in nearby Covington, LA to help provide fresh produce to the local community. Some of the New Orleans Market venders are looking at a new farmer's market venue in Gretna, La which is an hour and 15 minutes by truck. Unfortunately, FEMA hasn't come thru with the $2000 check to farmers like Jim who didn't evacuate the hurricane and chose instead to try to protect their crops and animals. To date, Gladys and Jim have been helped with small contributions by Farm-Aid and the Red Cross. Considering that the generator they purchased for $1500 and the gas expense of operating it for 38 days was a small fortune, it's pocket change.

Farmers helping Farmers...
On a compassionate note, Mariquita Farm, a small family CSA Organic Farm near Watsonville, CA has helped the Core's by sending them new seeds to plant and organizing a benefit at the Desiree Cafe in San Francisco. As we speak, the new plants are looking beautiful according to Gladys. Her customers are anxiously awaiting the fresh produce at market.

Mariquita Farm/Hurricane Benefit Dinner at Desiree Cafe in the Presidio for Taylor's Happy Oaks Farm in Louisiana, Friday, October 28th, 2005 at Desiree in San Francisco.

Desiree Cafe and Mariquita Farm in California are contributing to a good cause. Annie and the staff at Desiree are going to cook Andy's Vegetables for a very special benefit meal to help one small, family farm in Louisiana get back on its feet after the hurricanes. For this benefit dinner at Desiree Cafe on 10/28/05. Annie gets her pick of anything and everything our farm can produce. We know that Annie could cook our phonebook and make it taste great, but we're going to make it easy for her by giving her the best ingredients we can grow. Please join us for what promises to be a delightful evening.

Friday Oct. 28th, 2005
This is a benefit dinner to raise funds for Taylor's Happy Oaks farm in Louisiana. More on their story is here. Taylor's Happy Oaks farm in Louisiana.

The dinner is $45 per person (exclusive of tax and tip) and sittings for 40 people are available at 5:30pm and at 8:30pm. Wine and beer will be available for purchase. Corkage fee $15.

Learn more about Desiree Cafe by visiting their website, we love to eat there! Here is a link to a webform on the website to sign up for this dinner.

My heartfelt thanks go out to Andrew and Julia Griffin of Mariquita Farm and owner Anne Gingrass of Desiree Cafe in San Francisco for their compassionate attention to a small farmers need. - Anne Marchand

Farmer Story: Jim Core
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Folsom, Louisiana

Battered by Katrina, Louisiana Row-Cropper Digs In, Replants and Says Thanks to Farm Aid

By the time Hurricane Katrina reached its shrieking peak at about mid-day on Monday, August 29, Louisiana family farmer Jim Core had already moved beyond agonizing over the losses.

At the peak of the storm, I was just sitting there watching it. I already knew we'd taken a beating. There ain't no use to worry about something you can't control," says Core.

The 65-year-old Core, a fourth generation produce farmer who has worked the same 40 acres near Folsom all his life, has been without utilities close to a month already. The high wind and heavy rain ripped his fall crop from the ground; his greenhouse was left in tatters; plastic mulch was torn up and strewn across his acreage; dozens of trees were toppled, snapped off and tossed into farm fields, making it nearly impossible to cultivate and replant.

"The last of the summer crops we had out there, okra, peppers and eggplant, well it knocked all of them flat," Core says.

Despite the damage, Core and his wife Gladys are determined to hold on.

"We've done it all our lives; ain't going to change horses now," he says in his quiet, but self-confident voice.

It's going to be a challenge, though, because did the storm do incredible damage to his home place, it demolished the Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans, where Core, and his wife sold much of their crop. The high-end food markets where Core also sold tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, beets, carrots and other specialty crops have also been lost.

"I don't know if the New Orleans markets will ever come back," Core says.

Once the damage to his farm was surveyed, Core sought help through state and federal programs, but was discouraged by what he heard. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross found a way to provide the so-called "MREs", or Meals Ready to Eat, but because they had no serious damage to their home and had not evacuated during the storm the only help they could expect was a small business loan from the federal government. Core was told any help from the state might be three months or more away.

In a desperate bid to find help for his father-in-law, Jack Cousins reached out to Farm Aid for help. He telephoned the 1.800.FARM AID hotline, and working through its' long-time connection to the Louisiana Interchurch Conference, Farm Aid was able to direct $300 in emergency cash assistance to the Cores to help sustain them in their crisis.

Core says he's proud to receive Farm Aid help, although it clearly came nowhere near meeting the tremendous expenses he'd incurred during the storm.

"It's tremendous," says Core of the aid. "I've been following Willie Nelson from the beginning. I even sent some checks to them. Farm families are a scarce animal. Seems like a lot of people are not going to be happy until they eradicate us."

Core, though, is far from eradication. Within days after the storm, he was back in his fields, planting quick growing varieties he could move to market in a hurry.

"I figured in 60 days I could turn a crop as long as we don't get a ton of rain all at once," he says, knowing on the day we spoke with him that Hurricane Rita was bearing down on the Gulf Coast.

Rather than wait for markets in New Orleans to reopen, Core is moving in a different direction.

"I got a hold of folks in Jefferson Parish. They need a good market and I'm going to see if we can start a market down there. I'm going to pursue this thing and see what they can do with it," he says.

"We're coming back all right, and we'll do as good and better," Core declares.

Already things are looking up, he says, as long as he can keep his generators running, his crop irrigated, and the heavy rains away.

"As each day goes by, I can see things getting better. I can walk the fields now and see a little green, which is kind of nice."

Contact: Jim and Gladys Core
Taylor's Happy Oaks Farm
Folsom, LA
Product: canteloupe, strawberries, peaches. greens, collards, turnips, mustards… and several years ago started the 'specialties' at the request of chefs they were already working with: radicchio, spring mix, kohlrabi, pak choi, leeks, gold and chioggia beets, heirloom tomatoes.

No comments:

Post a Comment