Batten Down the Hatches at the Farm!

Are you ready for the storm to hit your farm? Nikki Siebert Kelley has written a good list!

Living on the coast, we are used to battening down the hatches and slipping on our rain boots to prepare for rainy weather, so when we hear there is a storm coming we generally just stock up on the essentials: beer, bread, and batteries. Some might even say we are a little too salty when it comes to our outlook on storms. As a fellow coastal dweller, when others scoffed at the lack of evacuations prior to Katrina, I simply shook my head and thought, “Most of us wouldn’t leave either, especially because we would be expected at work the next day”. During my class today, we asked how many of our students had ever experienced a hurricane and the answer was only two out of twenty two. I quickly realized that with so many transplants here, the majority of folks have no idea how to handle this situation. 

Now that Governor Haley has ordered a mandatory evacuation, people will be scrambling to get ready, especially with the memory of last October’s floods fresh in our minds. You can also sign up for Charleston County Citizen’s Alert if you want current updates and you can find details about the highway reversals here.

With that in mind, here are my top five tips. Please ignore poor formatting- trying to get this to you ASAP!

1. Get documentation. 

  • Take pictures and video of the inside and outside of your house prior to the storm.
  • Farmers need to take pictures of all of your crops, equipment, and infrastructure.
  • Gather any and all personal and business receipts, paperwork, and essential documents that you may need for insurance or personal purposes.  (including passports, birth certificates, medical records, etc.)

2. Secure your property:

  • Make sure you have renters/homeowner’s insurance. For renters, this can often been purchased the same week of a storm and is generally very affordable.
  • Buy plastic tubs for all items that could be damaged by water but that you would not be able to evacuate with.
  • Make a list of what items you will take with you in case of evacuation.
  • If you are in danger of flooding, raise everything off the ground with cinder-blocks, create a sandbag wall around your doors, and duck-tape the bottom seams of the doors from the inside and outside (I have seen more than one case of this actually stopping water from coming in.)
  • If you are going to leave your house and evacuate, move valuables away from windows, cover with tarps, hang hurricane protection over your windows, and take what you can.
  • Consider parking your vehicle in a parking deck to avoid damage and/or flooding.
  • If you evacuate, shut off your water valves, cut-off your main breaker, and unplug everything before you leave.
  • Getting contact information from your neighbors so if you evacuate you can find out how your house is.

3. Collect Supplies: 

This is a checklist from NOAA. Also consider what you would need to take in case of an evacuation.

  • Water– at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
  • Food – at least enough for 3 to 7 days
    • non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
    • foods for infants or the elderly
    • snack foods
    • non-electric can opener
    • cooking tools / fuel (propane camping stove and fuel)
    • paper plates / plastic utensils
  • Blankets / Pillows, etc.
  • Clothing – seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes
  • First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs
  • Special Items – for babies and the elderly
  • Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes
  • Flashlight / Batteries
  • Radio – Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
  • Telephones – Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set
  • Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards – Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
  • Keys
  • Toys, Books and Games
  • Important documents – in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bags.


    • Tools – keep a set with you during the storm
    • Vehicle fuel tanks filled (buy extra gas can and fill as well)
    • Pet care items
      • proper identification / immunization records / medications
      • ample supply of food and water
      • a carrier or cage
      • muzzle and leash

4. Make a plan for staying AND evacuating.

Obviously, you need to make this decision based on what is most appropriate for you and your situation. That being said, here are some things to consider.

  • What category is the storm? Category 3 and above should evacuate but if you are living in an area that could flood, be cut off by flooding of roads, or is isolated- any hurricane can pose a threat. (Check out the map below to get an idea for how bad the storm surge can be.)
  • What type of home do you live in? Can your house get flooded? Are their any large trees over your house that could come through the house? Do you have a safe place in the house with no windows that you can safely hide? If flood waters rose, would you be able to climb to higher ground?
  • If you were to be cut off from power and water for 7-10 days, would you be able to survive off of the supplies you currently have?
  • Do you have somewhere safer to go? Consider asking around with family, friends and co-workers to see if there is an alternative place for you to go, how long you can stay, and if your pets are welcome.
  • Will your employer expect you to return the day after the hurricane? You would be surprised.

 5. Get ready for a LONG commute. 

  • Fill up your gas tank and potentially even fill up an extra. Traffic will be extreme and even with highways reversing to accommodate flow, it will be a long journey.
  • Pack snacks, drinks, and games for yourself (and the kids) but keep in mind that there may not be a lot of stops for bathroom breaks.
  • Make sure your car has plenty of air in the tires and all fluids are topped off (oil, coolant, etc).

Other things people often forget.

  • Extra coolers filled with ice-packs to unpack your fridge into if the power goes out.
  • Generator and fuel is always a fun item (if you have the money…)
  • Fill your bath-tubs and sinks with water the night/day of the hurricane… this way you will have even more potable water.
  • Expect excessive evacuation delays and how much gas this could potentially use.
  • In addition to filling your car with gas, check all fluids, tire pressure, filters, etc.
  • Either own or know someone with a chain-saw and fuel.
  • Let other people know your plan so they don’t have to worry!


Moving Forward Together at the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

Earlier this month, our farm to school staff and partners joined more than 1,000 food service professionals, farmers, educators, policy makers, entrepreneurs, students, representatives from nonprofits, public health professionals, and others gathered in Madison, WI.

Southern SAWG serves as the Regional Lead Agency for five states in the South region of the National Farm to School Network. Pam Kingfisher represents us in working with state leads in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas to develop a strong network of farmers and schools participating in bringing fresh, local foods to students in our region. We have seen a sharp rise in the participation of local farmers and food hubs in the food supply chain to cafeterias.

To kick off the full conference day, states divided into their NFSN regions for networking. Our South crew made good use of their time by gathering as States to discuss action plans for the coming year. As a leadership team, we’ll be focused on peer learning as we heard about the wide range of expertise our group holds and the topics folks want to learn more about. Regional attendees were able to discuss their expectations and learning needs with their state leads and make plans together on developing strategic plans for their statewide networks, working with farmers to increase direct sales and engage more farmers with improved pay schedules from school to farm, and increased regional purchasing through DOD Fresh. We also discussed teacher trainings to implement State standards in the school gardens, and better sharing of resources through increased networking.


We also split into focus groups to discuss procurement, school gardens, farmers participation, policy development and early childcare education & evaluations. Our regional networking room had great discussions, fun quizzes with prizes and shared a lot of dreams and laughter.


The 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference was inspiring and filled with learning, sharing and networking opportunities in a great conference facility on Lake Monona. The National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is a biennial event, which means the next gathering won’t take place until 2018. About 70% of the attendees were first time conference goers and they said they’ll be back!

In the meantime, our f2s crew in the South have their guidance from attendees at the conference and will continue innovating and connecting with new partners who are interested in the growing farm to school movement.

SOUTH Region participants

SOUTH Region participants

It's Peach Picking Time Y'all!

Last year our farm to school staff visited with the kitchen staff at Two Rivers School District in Arkansas to see how they were working with local farmers. They started with a purchase of 16 bushels of fresh peaches from Peach Pickin' Paradise and they were a great hit with the kids – especially slightly frozen in the salad bar.

Peach Pickin’ Paradise is one of the few long-term peach growing operations left in Arkansas. Johnson County, Arkansas, was once known as the peach capital of America. The Morgan family settled in more than 100 years ago, where they were peach growers during the peach growing boom. James Griffin Morgan originally settled on land in this 1876 and purchased his first peach trees in 1890 for family fruit. The family business went into commercial peach growing during the 1920s, when George Morgan, Jr. returned from World War II in 1947. He is credited with starting the first “pick your own” business in 1977.

Today, the orchards have approximately 120 rows of peach and nectarines growing with four generations currently working together on the land. The Morgan’s’ share a strong commitment to quality produce and to their community. The farm sells at the Johnson County Farmers Market in addition to the U-pick operation. Family farms like the Morgan’s provides so much more than food – they remind us about the commitment required to farm, to support generations of family from the land and to eat locally and support our neighbors.

Here is one of their family recipes:


Makes about 8-10 cups.
Cooking time: approximately 8 hours (allow more time for canning)

  • 8 cups peeled and coarsely chopped peaches
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, chopped
  • 7 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup sorghum molasses
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • ½ cup Liquid Smoke
  • 1 (or more) chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground chipotle or ancho chili pepper
  • 1-2 5” sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions for slow cooking:

  1. Blanch and peel the peaches; coarsely chopped. Add them to the slow cooker and pour the lemon juice over it all.
  2. In a large sauce pan over medium-low heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add to the peaches in the slow cooker.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  4. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours, stirring halfway through.
  5. When the ingredients are very soft, remove the rosemary, thyme and bay leaf.
  6. Using an immersion blender, blend the peach mixture in the slow cooker until it’s smooth. (Alternately, transfer the peach mixture in batches to a blender and puree until smooth.)
  7. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, prop the lid of the slow cooker open slightly and continue to cook the sauce on HIGH until it has thickened considerably. You will need to stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  8. Taste for seasonings.
  9. Use as you would any barbecue sauce for basting grilled or smoked meats. Serve alongside, as well.

Directions for canning:

  1. Have ready 4-6 half pint jars and their lids, making sure the jars have been heated thoroughly and the rings and lids warmed.
  2. Prepare a water bath canner by bringing the water to a slow boil.
  3. Have ready a large ladle, funnel and tongs.
  4. Ladle the hot sauce into the jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles, wipe the rims and seal with the lids.
  5. Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes. Store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.
  6. The sauce may also be frozen.
Fresh peaches from Peach Pickin' Paradise farm in AR

Fresh peaches from Peach Pickin' Paradise farm in AR