Around 8 a.m. on Friday, Cody Galligan walked around Siembra Farm in Southeast Gainesville to assess the effects of the cold weather.
“We were harvesting a lot of tomatoes last week,” Galligan recalled.
The rows of tomato plants are now brown—dead from the cold.
His son began surveying the pipes and ran up to his dad.
“It’s frozen,” Galligan exclaimed as he looked at the pipe in his son’s hand. Upon further inspection, many of the pipes in the Siembra watering system were frozen due to the low temperatures.
On Jan. 1, 2, 4 and 5, Alachua County issued hard freeze warnings to residents, meaning the temperature was expected to be below 27-degrees for more than two consecutive hours.
Meteorologist Cyndee O’Quinn says those hard freezes affect farmers.
“That’s when we can really see damage to our crops, vegetation and actually killing off some of the crops,” O’Quinn said.
To prevent the freezing temperatures from killing off his crops, Galligan put frost blankets over most of them. He says the blankets only provide about 5-degrees of warmth, meaning some crops still can’t survive.
“Tomatoes, for example, can’t make it,” Galligan said. “There’s no hope, so some of the plants we just abandoned.”
For Siembra Farm, located at 2033 SE 23rd Place, this is the second major setback this growing season. Hurricane Irma ruined all of the first crops back in September 2017.
“We’re just trying not to go into debt,” Galligan said. He estimates the string of freezing temperatures has cost Siembra Farm about $5,000 worth of crops, a large amount for such a small farm.
Despite this season’s financial losses, he plans to continue running Siembra Farm with his family next growing season.
“You just have to deal with the weather,” Galligan said. “It’s the name of the game for farming.”