We Are Drowning - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1793560

We Are Drowning

During the past couple of weeks, I’ve begun planting the first of the 10 acres of pumpkins I’ll need for our fall season at The Milk Pail, established in 1969. Many of my patches are in low-lying areas on the farm. One of my fields had to be replanted because the seeds rotted due to the high water levels in the soil, because Mecox Bay is too full [“While Government Butts Heads, Mecox Bay Suffers,” 27east.com, June 23].

Another field is within 50 feet of the bay. I had extreme difficulty prepping this patch due to the moisture in the soil. Any farmer in normal circumstances would have never tried to work this soil, but I have no choice, as I don’t have anywhere else to plant. I laid out my rows and then let them sit in the sun to dry out the top so that the seeds wouldn’t rot here, too.

I’ve had trees that had to be pulled out because they’ve slowly been dying due to the water levels around their roots, because Mecox Bay is too full. The anaerobic environment around the roots weakens the trees and allows for fungus and viruses to take over and kill the tree. At this point, there is water 12 to 18 inches from the soil surface.

I am very conscious of compaction and keeping our soils well aerated to provide for good drainage, because we are so close to groundwater. I’ve moved, more than 15 years ago, from conventional plowing and disking to a reduced tillage/cover cropping system to help promote increased soil health and increased drainage.

Unfortunately, Mecox Bay is too full, and we are drowning. I have no way to help promote drainage if the water doesn’t have a place to go.

I am a farmer at heart. I love what I do. I cannot raise a family and support my business without my crops.

The farm has been profitable over many years and has supported many generations on the same land. It amazes me how quickly it can be taken away by something that is easily controlled. Farmers don’t go to Vegas to gamble — they wake up to the casino every day. When you work with Mother Nature, you learn to work with her to grow food, but when Mecox Bay is left poorly managed, I have no way to work together, except by pleading with government agencies.

My farm is a well-maintained, beautiful open space that also grows food. Everyone in the community benefits from any farm, with beautiful views and local food to eat.

My farm, the aquatic environment, the wetland areas, and the wildlife habitats that we are supposed to be protecting are being destroyed.

Please help and open Mecox!

Jennifer H. Dupree

Water Mill