(HOST) Commentator Rich Nadworny is chewing on a Nirvana sandwich of two disasters wrapped around a glorious experience..
While Hurricane Irene devastated parts of Vermont, we here in
Burlington were relatively unscathed. A few trees were down on my
street, but it was hard to see the effects of the weather, otherwise.
That is, for almost every place except in the Intervale Gardens.
caused the Winooski to completely flood the fields of the local
Intervale farmers. The overflow has forced the farmers to plow under 55
tons of food, since FDA rules don’t allow crops that have been in
floodwaters to be sold to the public. The total might amount to as much
as $1 million in lost income.
And as if this weren’t enough,
those poor Intervalers started the season in the exact same way! When
Lake Champlain rose to record levels in the spring, guess who got hit
hard? The Intervale farms. A number of crops never recovered, wiping out
a complete season of growing.
Oddly enough, in between these
two bookends of doom, I discovered what turned out to be one of my
favorite events of the year: Summervale. Each Thursday evening, the
Intervale Center in Burlington held a celebration of local farmers and
restaurants under the summer sky, by the Winooski River. There, people
could eat some delicious food, listen to good music, and chat with
friends and neighbors.
Apparently, this has been going on for
eight years! Yet this was the first year I’d gone. And when I’d run into
some old friends there, they all said the same thing: This is great. I
wish I had known about this sooner.
Local restaurants set up
their booths and served their goodies. There were samosas, crepes, mac
and cheese, salads, burgers, flatbreads, pies, ice cream and even a
specially brewed Summervale ale. I could always count on Thursday’s for
the best meal of the week. Not only that, the weather was consistently
The best part, though, was the people. It was an
interesting mix of Burlingtonians, with people from the Hill to the
alternative scene crowd. And little kids everywhere. I don’t think I’ve
ever seen so many happy kids at an event.
I was struck by how
the Burlington community could come together to support our local
farmers and merchants. It was a Buy Local fest, by local people. All of
the proceeds of the event went to support the Intervale Center and all
the good things they’re doing to keep local produce growing in town.
these dual disasters, it’s more important than ever to keep supporting
the farmers so they can stay in business. And even though Summervale is
over, the Intervale Center Farmer’s Recovery Fund is still up and
running, in addition to numerous fundraising events planned for
throughout the fall.