Reposted with permission by Margaret Gilmour of

It’s hot as the tropics and dry as the dessert here in the northeast.

Maybe I’m being a bit extreme.

But we’ve had extreme weather this summer. Record temperatures hit 103 degrees last week with thick, soupy air dragging you to a crawl when faced with the outdoors.

From the NYT: “The sizzling weather suffocating much of the country is also noteworthy for its extraordinary mugginess. That high humidity makes it even more difficult for the body to cool off.”

Finally, much needed rain pounded the ground Monday night.

The heat, the cracked earth, the sudden downpour. I wondered how local farmers are handling the sultriness, and how crops are faring.

So I asked two friends/farmers: Tim Mountz (Happy Cat Farm), seed saver extraordinaire who specializes in heirlooms and organic farming, and Claire Murray (Inverbrook Farm) whose approach to farm-work is a purist’s ideal: It’s all back-to-basics, a sustainable road to mindful agriculture.

Both locals tend small farms in Chester County, Pa. They offer CSAs and access to their produce and other local goods through a farm stand or farmers’ market. Tim sells his seeds, plants and garden supplies online. You should check it out.

“How are your crops doing?” I asked both farmers. Then: “How are you doing in the extreme heat?”

After all, hands-on farmers don’t have the choice to stay inside cooled by air conditioning or the constant breeze of a gusting fan.

Tim, who has been farming for 20 years, said: “I’m hot. I’m tired. I don’t ever remember a week as hot as last week. My greens are done and I am irrigating nightly. My tomatoes are coming in just fine.”

Says Claire: “The heat and the dry was making the fall planting a challenge and my beans have been kind of tough.  Beans seem to like rain and slightly cooler weather.  I agree with Tim, it’s been almost impossible to keep greens going. I have been irrigating daily (or nightly).  Plus, it’s just been really unpleasant to work outside.  We start at 6 a.m. to try and beat the heat.  Finally, one of the worst things about hot weather is that no one wants to cook, so the Friday farm stand hasn’t been very busy.” Claire has been farming/running Inverbrook Farm for twelve years.

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