With an atmospheric river in the region forecasted to bring floodwaters to the Snoqualmie Valley, farmers in the region are concerned about what that could mean for their farms and their crops.
Dave Glenn is the executive director of the SnoValley Tilth in Carnation. The tilth is a community space for local small scale farmers in the region to meet and share information and farming knowledge.
Glenn said the potential of an unusual June flood has farmers in the area concerned. He said farmers in the Snoqualmie Valley wait until the typical flooding risk has passed before planting their crops, typically in late March and April.
For vegetable farmers who have already planted their crops, he said the effects of the flood are potentially devastating to their livelihood. Flood water washes away soil and may kill crops. For vegetable farmers, flood waters which contact the edible portion of crops render the crop no longer safe for human consumption.
Glenn said farm infrastructure, soil and future crop sales are all in danger for the low-lying farms in the Snoqualmie Valley over the course of the atmospheric river conditions.
Snoqualmie River flood forecasting from the U.S. Geological Survey observed on June 9 at 9:15 pm, forecasted river levels to peak just before 10 pm on June 10 as they are expected to surge over six-feet of what they were at the time the forecast was taken. The forecast indicated that flood levels would meet the threshold of “minor” flooding and would approach the threshold for “moderate” flooding.
Glenn said even without the threat of a flood, this has already been a challenging start to the farming season for Snoqualmie Valley farmers. He said cold, wet weather has delayed the ability to prepare the land for crops and get seeds or starts in the ground.
Glenn said many farmers were planting crops weeks, and in some cases more than a month, later than they typically might.
Glenn said the community can support local farmers affected by floods by choosing to purchase locally grown food at farmers markets and farm stands.
He said farmers that expected to be impacted by the flood spent much of the last few days quickly harvesting crops including greens, carrots and radishes before those crops were affected.
He said the community can further support farmers by joining a Community Supported Agriculture membership program, offered by some farms to consumers interested in partnering in the benefit and risk of farming. CSA members purchase “shares” of crops at the beginning of the season and typically receive a weekly or bi-weekly box of produce.