Ottawa-area farmers try to stay positive after devastating storm

·2 min read
Kalen Stevens-Heap, co-owner of Heart City Farm, says they were lucky their main crops hadn't yet been planted inside the gardening tunnels that were lost to the storm. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC  - image credit)
Kalen Stevens-Heap, co-owner of Heart City Farm, says they were lucky their main crops hadn't yet been planted inside the gardening tunnels that were lost to the storm. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC - image credit)

Kalen Stevens-Heap gets emotional when she talks about how the community has supported her farm this past week.

"It's completely affirming, to tell us that we should be doing this work," she said Saturday at the Lansdowne Farmers Market.

Stevens-Heap co-owns Heart City Farm in rural east Ottawa, which was hit hard during the storm that ripped through the area on May 21.

They lost two greenhouse tunnels they'd just built, along with various pieces of farm equipment. Crops were destroyed, and the lights were still off as of Sunday.

"We're out $25,000," Stevens-Heap said.

"It was a tough blow, but I mean, I keep saying it's just so representative of everything that farming is. There's always things that just happen that are completely out of your control, and it's our job to just pivot and respond. And we're really only able to do that as we've done it this week because of all the love that we're receiving."

By Sunday afternoon, an online fundraiser for the farm had raised more than $15,000.

Stevens-Heap said any extra earned from that will go to other farmers in need.

'Gave us a kick to work more'

That positive attitude is shared by Linda Bergeron, who owns Linda Garden near Navan.

She was out at a market when the storm hit and came home to a downed greenhouse and damage to her plants. She estimates the storm caused several thousand dollars in damage.

"We're happy [that] all the family was secure, everything is replaceable. And I don't know, it gave us a kick to work more … we love what we were doing, anyway," she said.

"Around us there's some people a lot worse, so I guess you say, 'Well, it's not that bad after all.' We try to be positive."

Natalia Goodwin/CBC
Natalia Goodwin/CBC

With climate change bringing more inclement weather, Stevens-Heap said Heart City Farm is making plans to mitigate future damage, including by hooking the farm up to solar power.

"[Our] thoughts now are, can we do that even faster than we were planning?" she said.

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