2023-07-12 newsletter

Greetings from 12 Seasons Farm,

What a season it has been!

As the sun is setting on another season, we are so grateful to have
ended well after an extraordinarily challenging start to the 2022/23

On the eve of the hurricane as our house was flooding and I escaped
with our farm manager to our neighbor’s house, I was convinced that we
would not plant one more seed this season. But all that quickly changed
as the waters receded and an amazing network of friends showed up the
following morning and started the recovery process. Through a capable
team of kind and skilled laborers and your generous support all season
long, we were able to see our buildings, homes, greenhouses, and fields

Near the farm entrance.

Flooding of Ek and Bianca’s home on the farm.

Flooding of the honey house and farm on night of the hurricane.

All beds were flooded and most all crops destroyed requiring beds to
reformed, covered, and replanted.

Farm was without water for several days after having pipes and system

Several feet of water came into this greenhouse severely damaging the
back and front walls when the flood waters rapidly left. We had to
rebuild part of the trellis system, replace water damaged fans and
resurface the top with new plastic (we took off the plastic in advance
of the storm). Out of 8 greenhouses, 3 were completely destroyed while 5
were damaged at various levels.

Seedling greenhouse flattened.

It was a fight all season long repairing damaged greenhouses, homes,
irrigation and electrical systems, storage structures, golf carts,
reforming and replanting beds, and doing this while having our workers,
our kids, and Vicki and me displaced from our homes.

So many great friends stepped in the gap for us. Ben and Lydia
Hofland housed Ekachai, Bianca, and Mikha, and Jedilo. Other workers
shuffled around to various places on the farm. The photo on the right is
of the Watkins Family who took our kids for 8 days after the storm while
we got a camper moved over to the house that we could all move in to.
The Watkins and Kanes were at our house nearly every day for 2 weeks
helping empty it out and salvage what we could. Friends came from all
over– even Cate came and helped us on more than one occasion!

While nearly all vegetable crops in the ground were destroyed, we
were able to keep most of our transplants in trays alive by moving them
all into a building and having them stacked high on shelves. Good thing–
the seedling greenhouse was completely flattened during the storm. We
moved the plants out and fetched water from I don’t even know where to
keep them alive as our irrigation system was down for several days. We
kept up with our planting calendar in spite of crazy demands. Several
talented seeders like Mary Ann and Elena kept that weekly discipline and
essential activity going of planting seeds in trays. With the seedling
greenhouse destroyed, we made do until that was rebuilt with trays
scattered around the processing deck. See photo below showing Shelby
stacking trays before storm and then some of them spread around
processing deck after storm.

Going through this experience with an amazing team and unfettered
support from so many of you– doing life together and not alone– left us
no time for despair or even disappointment. We were so kindly looked
after and enabled with skilled help, meals, building supplies, and
finances. So many of you donated funds which took a huge burden off us
knowing that we had the means to replace worker homes and keep the
necessary cash flow going to get the farm up and running. Thank

Friends gathering for meals on our front porch– 2 meals a day were
provided for the first several weeks from gracious friends! The Small
Family and the Young Family changed their summer plans and came early to
help with the recovery and bring supplies.

Friends Ben Hofland and Kyle Vealy came the day after the storm and
helped with clean up. Kyle runs 3 companies with 50+ workers but spent
hours at the farm and enabled us to get a jump start on clean up by
letting us use an excavator and skid steer among many other things.

Family and friends from a dairy in north Florida arrived the weekend
after the storm with building supplies and very skilled labor!

Volunteers for a week from a church in Virginia helped restore the
honey house walls.

4 young men from the Mennonite Disaster Relief did all kinds of
chainsaw and tree work.

Recovering plastic on various greenhouses with the amazing 12 Seasons
team– Jack, TJ, Luke, Ek, Jedilo, and others.

Houses got new drywall and above is a painting party at Ek and
Bianca’s place.

And then we had a farming season! Overall, the crops performed
exceptionally well. I thin Perhpas this was due, in part, to the silt
that was deposited from the river on the fields during the storm. Most
of the farm was underwater. While we didn’t have a lot of production
until the start of 2023, we did have enough to begin the Bonita market
in December. Once we got to mid January, we were pretty much back at
full production.

The farm was planted by a great team!

Crops are growing.

The lettuce Ellie and Elena planted 3 days after the storm grew well,
seen in 2nd photo and was ready to harvest in November as evidenced by
Fritz and Wally and mom, Brittany.

And then a series of important firsts. Anna was our first customer
for farm pick ups which resumed at the farm Nov. 12. Anna and her
husband have been incredibly generous with us. Anna showed up the
morning after the storm and brought us loads of groceries among many
other things!

We moved back into our home in mid-November.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with the 12 Seasons Family!

Then we had our first market of the season, December 3, at Bonita.
Myrah, Annika, and Carrie Bell! What an amazing feat to get to this

And then Vicki and Benjamin and I at our first market at Captiva on
Jan. 2. Thanks to all who all who worked hard on the islands to get us
back there and help arrange this spot at McCarthy’s Marina.

Two new greenhouses were built and finished!

And then there was bounty!


Jedilo with strawberries!

Beautiful carrot crop.

The team we had here this season endured a lot! We are grateful for
their hard work and care in the planting and raising of fruits and
vegetables. The number of helping hands this season has been

We labored very hard, but also took time for breaks and enjoyable
meals together.

And fun festivities.

And said many good-byes as the season has drawn to an end!

We truly thank you all so much for enabling us to recover and finish
strong as a team and as a family. We look forward to the beginning of
next season and will be in touch as we learn more about exactly where
will be. We plan to be at the market in Bonita beginning the first
Saturday in November and hope to start farm pick ups and deliveries a
couple weeks before that in mid-October. We will keep you posted.

Now the season has come to a close. Farming goes on. But a long
chapter has ended. Our hearts are full, our cup runneth over!

With deep gratitude,

The entire 12 Seasons Family






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