Luskin: Changing Course

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(HOST) Commentator Deborah Luskin is among those finding it hard to get
around in Post-Irene Southern Vermont. She certainly can’t get to a
broadcast studio to record. So, amid the distant sounds of storm
recovery, she managed to record her impressions of the storm’s aftermath
in a nearby neighbor’s house.

(LUSKIN) I live in Williamsville,
next to the Rock River, which is usually more rock than river, but not
during or after Irene. During the storm, I was awed by the volume and
power of the water gushing through the village, sweeping whole trees
along with it. Underneath the waves, I heard stones tumbling along the
riverbed. The earth shook as boulders bounced down stream, reminding me
of the earthquake earlier in the week.

was equally amazed by the dryness of my basement. I didn’t even lose
power. So I wasn’t really prepared for the devastation just a mile
upstream, in South Newfane.

sunny Monday, I joined my neighbors and strolled across our newly
rebuilt Covered Bridge, which withstood the flood. But nothing prepared
me for what lay beyond. Great slabs of the road were missing, and the
road itself blocked by the top half of my friends’ house, which had been
broken and shoved by a huge logjam. Nearby, older neighbors were
evacuating their ruined home of many decades. Other houses stood empty,
scoured by mud. Power lines hung from downed poles. The Green Iron
Bridge was canted, having come loose at one end. It looked like the
settlement had been bombed.

wreck in the road had been a second home, and its owners are safe in
their primary residence, so this loss sad, but not life-threatening. The
destruction of my friends’ farm, further north in Cuttingsville, is
another story entirely.

and Ryan are young farmers, who bought their dilapidated farmhouse and
neglected fields along the Mill River last year. They came from
Pennsylvania, where they’d established a successful CSA on borrowed
land. The purchase, renovation, and creation of Evening Song Farm had
been their carefully-planned dream. By all accounts, they were thriving.
With strict adherence to their business plan and their own Herculean
effort, they had reclaimed and planted fields. They had built and filled
hoop houses. They had populated their barn. Their dream was coming

Their first season
was headed toward success: they had 50 CSA members, and were familiar
vendors at Farmers’ Markets in Dorset, Ludlow and Rutland. They were
bringing fallow farmland back to life, setting down roots in the rich
soil they were improving with dedication, passion and endless effort.
Ryan and Kara epitomize the new hope for organic, local, agriculture in
Vermont. Both in their mid-twenties, they were part of a migration of
young people resettling in Vermont.

all that changed Sunday, when the Mill River didn’t just jump its banks
and flood their fields, washing away an entire season of crops. The
river cut a new watercourse, changing the boundaries of the farm, and
shoveling acres of improved soil downstream.

no way to describe what a blow this is, not just to Kara and Ryan or to
Evening Song Farm, but to the whole state of Vermont. And the test of
our mettle as Vermonters will be how we respond to this forced change of



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