Wednesday August 31, 2011

GREAT BARRINGTON -- As the water continued to recede on Tuesday, a number of local farms were cautiously assessing the damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

"We don't know yet," said Dan Tawczynski, owner of Taft Farms. "We're still looking, but it seems as though pumpkins took the worst hit."

Tawczynski said the impacts of Irene led to some of the worst flooding in the last decade at his farm along Route 183. He said crops lower to the ground -- pumpkins, cauliflower, lettuce -- took the worst hit, while four or five acres of corn fields were taken down, apparently from wind gusts.

"Fall is a very, very big part of our season here," said Tawczynski. "We do a lot of decorations for all kinds of people in the area. We're going to be scrambling to put those decorations together this year."

Tawczynski said his biggest concern now is the threat of insects and fungal diseases that can often accompany large coastal storms.

The majority of local farmers contacted by The Eagle said they managed to avoid any serious damage, despite their fears to the contrary over the weekend when water levels continually rose.

Cindy Kelly, a spokeswoman for Gould Farm in Monterey, said the farm had flooding from a brook that flows through the property, but it appears everything is OK now.

"It's amazing because you couldn't even get out of here on Sunday, but we did really well," said Kelly.

Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton experienced major flooding on Sunday in all its lower fields -- seven acres of hay and vegetables. Farm manager Jesse Robertson-DuBois said it looked like the damage was going to be "catastrophic," but so far those concerns have been allayed.

"As the water is coming down, we're pleasantly surprised there's not as much damage as we feared initially," said Robertson-DuBois.

Robertson-DuBois said there will certainly be a degree of damage to the crops, but it will take another week or so to get a full understanding of Irene's impact.

To reach Trevor Jones:,
or (413) 528-3660.