Funds Established to Assist Flooded Farms
By Tara Hughes
July 23, 2023. Customers at the Winchester Farmers Market may have noticed a missing vendor the last few weeks. Flats Mentor Farm (FMF) suffered flooding during the recent heavy rain storms and won’t be returning to Winchester any time soon. The non-profit behind the FMF program World Farmers’ largest land site in Lancaster MA consisting of 70 acres farmed by 214 immigrant and refugee farmers is considered a total crop loss. The second largest land site consisting of 17 acres and farmed by 87 immigrant and refugee farmers (some of the same and some different) suffered a 65% crop loss in late spring/early summer flooding.
World Farmers and their farmers at Flats Mentor Farm (270 immigrant and refugee farmers) help increase access to healthy food for many food-marginalized communities in central and western Massachusetts. They also supply food to their own families and others through farmers markets and CSAs (including no-cost CSA shares to the most vulnerable families). Farmer Song Yang grows crops on one acre at Flats Mentor Farm and has been a vendor at Winchester Farmers Market since its opening in 2008 until the recent damage.
In an attempt to compensate these farmers for their losses a Farmer Flood Relief Fund has been established through GoFundMe. Funds raised during the campaign will be directed by the FMF Farmer Committee, a FMF farmer-led body, and 100% of the proceeds will go to the farmers.
In addition, Governor Healy announced on Thursday the backing of an effort to raise private donations to help flooded farms primarily in central and western Massachusetts. The administration and the United Way of Central Massachusetts launched a fundraiser, the Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund, that will provide grants to farmers to offset recovery costs. State officials will still pursue federal disaster relief funds, but those will be especially needed to repair bridges, dams and culvert damage. The administration described the fund as a “partnership between philanthropic organizations and private foundations” and said the fund would focus on recovery and making farms more resilient.
To donate to the Farmer Flood Relief Fund to support farmers such as Song Yang go to:
To donate to the Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund go to: https://www.classy.org/give/503065/#!/donation/checkout
Tara Hughes is the President of the Winchester News Group and a town meeting member.