We hope this latest newsletter finds you well. We wanted to provide
another update on the impact and, more importantly, the recovery efforts
from Hurricane Ian.
While the workload and the setbacks are real challenges, we have had
no time to be discouraged as the outpouring of support has been so
encouraging and transformational. Thank you to all who have supported us
with encouraging words, meals, helping hands, and generous gifts. We are
not alone and are so grateful for your support and help in this
We still have not attended to many parts of the farm, but we are
steadily expanding our cleanup efforts and balancing that with the need
for doing daily plantings and seedings. The below photo is showing the
prepping of beds for the strawberry plants. We are planning for 15,000
plants to arrive next week! Also, 4 tomato tunnels are fully planted
again and covered!!
With Hurricane Ian’s devastating impact nearly 3 weeks ago,
here is a more precise update:
- We have been furiously planting tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and
other crops. Even though we lost the first planting of nearly
everything, a 2nd round of grafted tomatoes and cucumbers arrived 1 week
after the hurricane from a nursery where we already had them ordered and
scheduled to arrive months before. The nursery kindly sent extra plants
to help make up for some of the loss. Most of these tomatoes we planted
in seasonal structures that were stripped of plastic before the storm
and could be repaired in a few days. We replanted directly in the holes
where the previous crop was destroyed and were able to cover the houses
again with plastic and netting.
The photo on left is how we preserved much of seedlings during the
storm. While this shed flooded, most seedlings survived. The seedling
greenhouse was destroyed in the storm, so we have kept the trays on and
near our processing deck. Some can be seen in the photo on the right.
Thankfully we were able to plant soon after the storm with the veggies
that did survive.
2. Two metal greenhouse structures have been repaired with one
receiving plastic film yesterday and now fully operational. The third
large metal greenhouse is nearly repaired.
The photos above show yesterday’s reskinning of one of our metal
greenhouses. Great to see this kind of progress.
Cucumbers and tomatoes were replanted in another 2 houses that still
require a lot of work, but at least the plants are in the ground!
3. Our seedling house is being rebuilt from the ground up. Ek and
Jedilo are working steadily on that and hope to have it completed by the
end of the week.
4. One of our biggest challenges remains the workers’ dwellings that
were badly flooded. We still have several workers who are not yet back
in their homes. Ek and Bianca’s home now has finished drywall and is
ready for paint, then cabinets, and furniture, etc. We are hoping to get
them back home within a week. They have been staying locally with
generous friends! The other worker dwellings are a longer-term project
and challenge, and we are still exploring options. We are grateful for
the funds which many of you have donated to repair greenhouse
structures; lessen the impact of the farm losing 5 weeks of vegetable
production and much of this year’s fruit harvest (citrus, papaya,
banana, and avocado); purchase repair supplies; and ultimately work
toward improved housing for our workers.
5. We have been able to straighten and stake the large fruit trees
that were blown over, but still have around 300 young citrus trees
knocked over to the ground. They are still alive and should remain so.
We have prioritized our efforts to replant vegetables as soon as
possible to have crops for our market return, now scheduled for
December. We have more workers arriving soon and so plan to get to work
on these young orchard trees.
The citrus trees were all bagged to exclude the psyllid insect which
carries the citrus greening disease. These bags caused them to be more
vulnerable from the powerful winds. They are resilient and will be
straightened in due time.
6. Parts of the farm are still inaccessible due to large, downed
trees. These are low priority areas that we hope to chip away at as time
opens up for these less essential tasks.
Here is a photo of Tim Watkins and Luke Dallmann, two good friends
who helped with cleanup around our house.
7. We thankfully only lost 1 piece of equipment, an electric utility
cart, as all vehicles were moved off site and tractor, mowers, golf
carts, and other valuable equipment were moved to higher ground. We are
in the process of getting the one utility cart repaired. That cart was
moved on to 1 ft tall wood blocks near the shop, but the motor and
batteries were still completely submerged.
8. The community house (aka Honey House) is a whopper of a project as
it was severely flooded. It is our community house where workers gather
for meals, hanging out, etc. This will be a long-term project that we
are putting on the back burner for now. We have other storage areas that
were damaged that still require attention, but our focus remains on
getting planted and back up and running.
9. The large walk-in cooler nearly floated away even though it was
strapped down. This large, 2 room 24’X 11.5’ cooler had to be carefully
moved back in place. We had great help from 6 guys and an excavator lent
to us from a friend to move this back in place. We are now getting the
electrical part repaired that stripped out when the cooler shifted
during the flood.
The photo on left shows the shift the cooler made during the flood
while the photo on right shows a photo of the process to return it back
to its spot. While it may not seem like a big job, it took several
hours, some creative ingenuity using large bamboo pieces as skids, an
excavator, and some very skilled helpers.
10. Our personal house is also making progress thanks to so many
friends and helping hands– the house now has new drywall and is ready
for flooring. We are living in a camper next to the house while this
work is done. FEMA has provided us with assistance to cover some of the
losses in our personal house. What an amazing country that provides such
quick assistance in disaster situations. The farm is a different story,
being a business. The farm repair costs must come through our own
efforts and resources and/or business loans which we have applied for.
Thankfully, in our case, many have donated to the rebuilding of the farm
through the “Give, Send, Go” site which has been an enormous blessing,
relief, and such encouragement!! We can’t tell you thanks enough.
We are now back together again living in a camper next to our house.
The Watkins Family, pictured above without husband and dad Tim,
graciously took such great care of our children the first 8 days after
The kids are enjoying helping where they can and climbing trees and
bouncing on the downed bamboo.
We continue to be blessed by friends providing amazing meals for our
entire team. Last night’s meal was provided by Bonnie Price and her
husband Dr. Martin Price. Martin and Bonnie are the co-founders of ECHO
where I worked for 16 years when I was their farm manager. They have
been dear friends and strong supporters to us over the years. What a joy
to have them in our life. Martin and Bonnie are standing in the
background of the photo below.
Here is a link again to the “Give, Send, Go” site for those who would
like to support the rebuilding of the farm:
Thank you to so many of you who have already given!!
I apologize for this long newsletter. I thought I would be able to
get something out sooner.
As of now, we rescheduled our opening market day to the first
Saturday in December in Bonita Springs. Perhaps we will have enough
produce to offer deliveries a bit sooner but uncertain at this
Thank you again for your generous support in helping us get the farm
and infrastructure rebuilt. It will be a long road, but so much of life
is about the journey and not the perceived end goal.
The progress is perceptible, and the trajectory is in the right
direction! We feel so blessed to be on a journey where the evidence of
kindness, teamwork, and goodness have richly surrounded us all at 12
May your cups overflow with that same goodness!
Danny, Vicki, the kids, and the resilient 12 Seasons Team