A Flooded Johnson Farm Still Provides Produce for Neighbors in Need | True 802 | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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A Flooded Johnson Farm Still Provides Produce for Neighbors in Need


Published August 23, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

  • Courtesy of Foote Brook Farm
  • Foote Brook Farm

The July 10 deluge inundated fields at 100-acre Foote Brook Farm in Johnson. The barn flooded, destroying expensive equipment. More than 75 percent of the crops were lost.

"We've really been in survival mode," co-owner Joie Lehouillier said. "We have to concentrate on how we make it out of this season alive."

Despite that, Foote Brook Farm has benefited from the generosity of others to emerge as an affordable local food hub for waterlogged Johnson residents, whose only grocery store — Sterling Market — was destroyed in the flood.

The farm's roadside stand remained high and dry. Produce harvested before the flood sustained the stand for a few days before it ran out. Lehouillier contacted other farms in the area, hoping to purchase produce. Local growers sold and even donated fruits and veggies that kept the stand going.

Business didn't really take off, though, until Lehouillier posted on a local Facebook page that the farm accepts 3SquaresVT benefits — the government-funded nutrition program also known as food stamps — for its organic produce. It's one of only three farms in the state that does. 3SquaresVT users can get an additional 50 percent discount on fruits and vegetables at the farmstand.

"This is the most local traffic that I have ever seen, and this is our 10th year in business," Lehouillier said.

A friend started a GoFundMe for the farm, which has since raised more than $60,000. Lehouillier said the money and uptick in sales are a huge help but won't be enough to get Foote Brook Farm out of the red. Still, it has boosted her morale: "It makes me want to keep on going and be here for my community."

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