*** UPDATED BELOW, 1/13/11 ***
According to a press release from the state police's fire investigation unit, the cause of the barn-destroying fire at Pete's Greens in Craftsbury is undetermined, but not suspicious.
This will be of little comfort to farmer Pete Johnson, his staff and Good Eats CSA subscribers, who will likely have to wait until April to get farm-fresh produce again.
Seven Days caught up with CSA manager Amy Skelton, who says that Johnson had gone back to bed around 3 a.m. after loading the truck taking shares around Vermont. He woke when he heard a boom around 4:20 a.m., she says. The noise was caused by pieces of the building collapsing in the blaze.
Skelton says that the barn was underinsured. "We set the values for that place a long time ago," she adds. The farm was currently adding a major addition to the structure, which had not yet been added to the policy. The insurance also didn't cover the coolers, equipment, produce or the tractor-trailer inside which held large amounts of pork, beef and chicken. Of the policy, Skelton says, "it will cover maybe half of what we need to rebuild."
Skelton says that in the next few days, she will be drafting an e-mail to all farmshare members detailing their options from here. She expects that most customers will choose to use the funds paid for undelivered shares as credit in future deliveries. The e-mail will also include the option to donate to help rebuild the barn.
According to Skelton, she had already recieved around 150 e-mails by 2 p.m. today, sending well wishes and asking how to help. Since much of the debris is metal, machines will have to take care of clean up, but donations are appreciated. As soon as possible, Skelton says, the farm will purchase new processing equipment which will allow workers to prepare food from the greenhouse for distribution as part of a short interim CSA period in April and May, before the normal summer Good Eats share starts June 22.
Photos courtesy of Amy Skelton. From top to bottom: the blaze, the rubble and the barn in better days.
***UPDATE** Ed. Note: Pete's Green has set up a web page with information about the fire, and a request for donations via PayPal.