Community rallies around North Okanagan farms dealing with storm damage

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Community rallies around North Okanagan farms dealing with storm damage
Community rallies around North Okanagan farms dealing with storm damage – May 22, 2023

After several storms passed through the North Okanagan in recent days some local farmers are dealing with serious damage.

But the same producers struggling with the impact of wind and hail have also seen a wave of community support.

At Silverstar Veggies in Vernon, B.C. they expected to be planting in their large greenhouse on Monday, but instead, they were dismantling the wreckage after a weekend storm.

“There was a large thunderstorm that was just east of us. it sent some pretty strong winds this direction,” said Silverstar Veggies owner Eric Feehely. “So it hit our [green]house side on and basically just rolled it off the side of the hill.”

Having to rebuild the greenhouse is a major inconvenience for the farm. Feehely said there will be an added expense and additional labour hours needed to deal with the plants that were supposed to go into the greenhouse while the structure is repaired.

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The damage will also put the farm behind schedule with crops not ready for customers till later than expected.

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Silverstar Veggies is not alone, Zelaney Farms in Coldstream was heavily impacted by hail early Thursday evening.

“It was probably the worst hail storm we’ve experienced [and] our farm has been running for 35 years,” said owner Rachelle Zelaney.

The hail shredded some of their produce and Zelaney estimates it caused thousands of dollars worth of crop damage.

“It also means we have staff that are expecting to work and now we don’t have crops for them to harvest or to prepare for market so we are having to give some staff some time off which is unfortunate because they rely on the hours,” said Zelaney.

However, after the farm shared the impacts of the storm online, it was met with a major wave of support.

“There were lots of offers to come out and help and help to replant. Right now we just have to wait and see if any of the plants can recover,” Zelaney said.

Because of that Zelaney Farms didn’t take anyone up on the replanting help.

Back at Silverstar Veggies they did turn to the public for assistance. Feehely started an online fundraiser that raised over $3,000 for greenhouse repairs in less than 24 hours.

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“It is really humbling,” said Feehely.  “Makes me a little upset in the best possible way. People here are so caring toward us.”


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