Urban Farms Beat the Summer Heat

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COLUMBIA - The heat of the summer and lack of rain left mid-Missouri in a drought this summer. Farms, especially those with corn and soybean crops, were hit hard. However, the local farms seemed to survive this drought, but at the expense of an enormous water bill.

"Our bill was like $500 in August, and we were watering every day. We've been selling more vegetables, but we've also been spending more," said urban farmer Billy Polansky.

"It's a hefty amount to pay in a month. You're normally looking at a bill of around $200," said Daniel Soetaert, co-founder of Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture.

With such a high water bill, these urban farmers are conscious of using water. Farmers are using the technology of drip-tape and soaker hoses to prevent the water from evaporating from the ground so easily. They are also laying down hay and mulch to help keep the moisture in.

"Since we are such a small farm, we are really able to pay attention to what the vegetables need," said Polansky.

Being in an urban environment, Soetart said that he is surprised that his crops are doing so well.

"Being in a city makes it so much harder to grow vegetables because of the urban heat island effect. The city is so much hotter, yet we are able to utilize certain resources larger farms can't," said Soetaert.

According to the National Weather Service, this was the sixth warmest summer on record and the ninth driest summer. There were only 5.74 inches of precipitation until the remnants of Hurricane Isaac released about 1.5 inches on mid-Missouri.

"The rain has definitely helped revitalize the crops. But I know for the larger farms, it came way to late," said Polansky.

(Amanda Sohaney/KOMU)