close to home

The fertile soil at Boistfort Valley Farm that has produced a bounty of organic vegetables sold at three area farmers markets lies under several inches of river mud the color and consistency of partially melted fudge.

“Who knows what’s in this mud?” observed Hannah Johnson, a farm employee and family friend of its owners, Mike and Heidi Peroni, as she navigated through it in boots Friday. “Pretty nasty, though.”

After the floodwaters receded, the mud covered the Peroni home, barn, greenhouses, office and vehicles. While friends and volunteers have cleared some of it away, the mud still obscures a certain future for this and other farms in the Boistfort Valley, among the hardest hit areas by last week’s record floods.

Peroni, 42, said the question of whether the couple moves away from the South Fork of the Chehalis Rivers remains “on the table.”

The cleanup will continue, and Peroni needs to talk to his insurers and determine what equipment is salvageable.

“I’m an agricultural idealist and a financial realist,” he said. “We’re just gonna have to look real hard at this. What’s going to be possible, whether it’s — it’s certainly going to look different than I intended.”

Peroni has farmed his entire adult life. In 2002, the couple moved from the Independence Valley in southwestern Thurston County to this farm community in Lewis County because of flooding concerns.

He is the board president of the Olympia and Chehalis farmers markets and also sells dozens of varieties of vegetables, including onions, squash and carrots, at the market in Ballard and the Olympia Food Co-op. The couple also sells directly to 250 customers between Olympia and Seattle. They own nearly 20 acres of farmland and lease an additional 66 acres.

When his in-laws alerted him that the river was rising Monday, he said he initially brushed it off, having seen it interact with the floodplain with little consequence.

This time was different.

These are very good longtime friends of ours. Two of the finest people we know and definitely of KisPer spirit. Trust me when I say they’re Kispers and we’ll leave it at that.

My heart is broken for Michael and Heidi.

Think of it like this: they lost their family home and a business to support themselves that they built literally from the dirt up over years in one day.

I’m thinking it doesn’t hurt to ask if anyone feels so inclined, we could use a little help. That’s not to say that the outpouring of support hasn’t been phenomenal, but after getting off the phone with a few of the folks organizing some help through the Farmers market, the magnitude of what this will entail to get them back on their feet again is pretty daunting when you break it down into blood, sweet and tears. I’m not a farmer. I’m not cut of that kind of cloth. Not only are they my friends, they produce much of my food. We have quite a connection.

So, if there’s anyone that might be inclined to have something to offer them that’d be swell.

If you have any spare cash (yea, I know) you can drop it in my PayPal marked “Mike and Heidi”. Please don’t feel obligated or badly if you can’t help! I’d hate to put anyone on the spot, that’s not it at all.
Just like I just doesn’t hurt to ask.

SondraK, unapologetic Lympian Slayer SondraK, unapologetic Lympian Slayer
12/09 at 11:28 AM •
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