Climate change forcing Vt. farmers to think ahead

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MONTPELIER (AP) - While most Vermont farmers are gearing up for spring, many are also preparing for extreme weather events, especially flooding, farmers said during a meeting of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont.

Changes in crop and farm practices were among the topics discussed at the meeting, which wrapped up Monday at the University of Vermont.

Vermont Public Radio ((http://bit.ly/1hs3HtY) reports that UVM farming and climate change program Coordinator Joshua Faulkner said farmers need to determine "long term" plans for dealing with climate impacts, even though it can be difficult for them to take time away from day-to-day operations.

An example is the experience of The Farm Between on the Lamoille River in Jeffersonville, which flooded twice in 2011. John Hayden and his wife used to grow corn, pumpkins and beans. Now they're planting perennial fruit trees and bushes, crops better suited to wetter conditions and changing cultivation practices.

"We've had some flash flooding events, too. We've had big streams of water coming off the hillsides," Hayden said. "If we have freshly cultivated ground, it will just rip it up. We don't do that anymore. Everything is in sod and no-till, and perennials in those areas that are susceptible to erosion."

Vermont has been hit with a number of floods in recent years, including those caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.


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