Will El Niño End California's Drought?
Diagram shows intensity of drought throughout California. For more details, click on image (courtesy of droughtmonitor.unl.edu/).[/caption]
At PCFMA we are anxiously poring over long-term weather outlooks. For the health of our state’s agricultural industry we know that we need more rain to fall, even though that may mean a winter of rainy market days. While we advertise that our farmers’ markets operate rain or shine we do close farmers’ markets in cases of severe weather to keep our market managers, farmers, and customers safe. While a winter of heavy rains would be inconvenient, another winter of below normal rain could be disastrous.
Regardless of whether or not the drought ends in the coming months, we believe that one of the ongoing lessons of the drought is how we are all dependent upon a finite resource whose availability is fundamentally outside of our control and how important it is to manage that resource wisely.
A more unfortunate lesson of this drought is how easy it is to demonize others. Urban areas complain of farmers using too much water, farmers complain of water diversions to sustain fisheries, and the house with the greenest lawn on the block goes from being the subject of envy to being an object of derision. Too often, in this type of environment, facts and solutions can be lost in a flood of hype and hysteria.
In the coming months PCFMA is hoping to help spur dialogue on the subject of water use by highlighting examples that are working in residential communities and on farms. Rather than demonizing anyone, we are hoping instead to inspire everyone. In the coming weeks I will even be sharing through our PCFMA blogs some of my own attempts at water conservation in my home.
Our work to address the drought is guided by the input of over 1,400 PCFMA farmers’ market shoppers who responded to an online survey, sharing with us their knowledge about the drought and its impact and their familiarity with water management strategies used by smaller scale farmers. We are incredibly appreciative of the time that each of these shoppers took to share their thoughts with us. You can read more about their responses to the survey on our website’s blog and in this month’s edition of Market Thymes.
Thanks for all that you are doing to support California’s small farmers as they struggle to sustain their farm businesses in this time of drought. I am confident that working together we can outlast these challenges until the real storms arrive.
I look forward to seeing you in the market soon.
Allen J. Moy Executive Director