A Central Alberta farm was hit hard by hail this past weekend.
The crops at Steel Pony Farm, located just south of Red Deer, were “pulverized” by a hail storm Saturday for about 25 minutes, said owner Mike Kozlowski.
“Part of vegetable gardening is that you plant successively through the season, but that’s only for crops that have a quick turnaround time,” Kozlowski told The Advocate on Tuesday.
“Any of our longer season crops that are in the ground for two or more months, they’re all planted – that would be things like garlic, onion, broccoli, cabbage, squash and things like that.
“It’s tough to say right now what the state of them is. I had a fellow here who has … been farming for 40 or 50 years. He was humming and hawing, and said some of it will come back and some of it won’t.”
There have been many hailstorms at the farm over its 13-year history, but none have caused this much damage, said Kozlowski.
“We have about a quarter-million dollars of crops in our little eight-acre garden right now. It feels to me that, best-case scenario, half of that might work out. But I’m open to being surprised,” he said.
“It’s the beginning of our season, so just a few things are starting to be harvested. This week we were supposed to harvest about $2,000 or $3,000 of crops. There were some radishes hidden away under the surface and some beets, so we’ll probably get $500 or $600 of that value out of the field this week. Moving forward, it’s going to slow down.”
The last time Kozlowski looked into crop insurance, he was told the minimum plot size that could be covered was 30 acres.
Steel Pony Farm sells produce through its Food Box Program. Even though much of its own crop is damaged, the farm will continue to sell those boxes – some of the produce will be sourced from other Alberta farms.
“Providing fresh and healthy food is the reason that Steel Pony Farm exists. I’m happy that I can still provide you with good food even though far less of it will be grown on my farm than expected,” Kozlowski said in an Instagram post.
In that post, Kozlowski explains several input costs have already been paid on his crops, including seeding, seed starting supplies and labour for seeding, transplanting, prepping beds and weeding. Now he will have to pay when he gets a bill from the farms where he will get the replacement produce.
For more information on Steel Pony Farm and its Food Box Program, visit www.steelpony.ca.