When Davis Peach Farm owner Christine Davis saw the extent of the devastation caused by a severe thunderstorm earlier this month, she went “totally numb.”
Now, nearly two weeks later, she still finds wind-ravaged trees almost every time she enters the orchard.
“Every row I go through, there’s such destruction,” she said. “I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to take care of my [six] kids?’”
With large swaths of the crop wiped out earlier this month, the owners of Davis Peach Farm in Wading River may be forced to shut it down after farming the land for more than 100 years.
The farm now needs to raise $150,000 to stay afloat, Ms. Davis said.
“If I don’t raise that money — which I’m not going to do just by selling the fruit I have left — we’ll have to close,” she said. “I don’t have a backup plan.”
On Thursday, she launched a GoFundMe page after a customer suggested she try to crowdsource the funds. As of Monday evening, the page has drawn just $200 in donations.
The farm was heavily damaged in the early August storm, which knocked down hundreds of peach, cherry and apricot trees at the property.
Ms. Davis — whose family has farmed Long Island for more than 100 years — estimates she lost 15 days worth of harvestable produce.
“It would almost be better if we lost later in the season after the fruit was harvested because then I would have income,” she said.
The destruction has lasting implications, too, since cherry trees must be planted about 12 years before fruit can be harvested and apricot trees must be planted between six and seven years before producing good fruit, Ms. Davis explained.
Peaches can be picked two years after trees are planted, but the fruit needs five years before it is at its best.
About a quarter of the fruit that survived the wind also suffered hail damage and is no longer usable because it rots quickly and attracts insects, Ms. Davis said.
Ms. Davis took over the farm in 2011 and immediately had to endure Hurricane Irene, then Hurricane Sandy two years later. But she said this month’s storm was worse than those two tropical storms combined. The reason: timing.
“August is National Peach Month, and it’s when everyone comes through,” she said. “We didn’t have anything to give them. That’s a huge, huge chunk of our income gone. Usually, we don’t make enough until the end of September or beginning of October to turn a profit.”
Ms. Davis said she no longer has insurance on her crops because it was not helpful enough after Sandy hit, so she must pay for everything herself.
If their goal is met, the money would let the Davis family cover the costs of replanting crops, removing damaged trees, installing new irrigation and helping the family survive until they can turn a profit again, Ms. Davis said.
Correction: Due to an editing error, the article previously stated the farm has been in operation for more than 100 years. While the family has been farming Long Island for more than 100 years, they started at a different location.