Farms Dealt Double Whammy: COVID & Drought

Irrigation saves the season, but it costs a lot of money in an already tough year.

By: Tim Studebaker

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SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WLNE) – Jaswell’s Farm in Smithfield has been around since 1899.  But this year, a global pandemic plus a summer of drought have left the Jaswells dealing with a double whammy.

Jaswell’s Farm Co-Owner Chris Jaswell says, “We haven’t stopped irrigating.  And, it’s very uncommon for us to water into September, but we have corn fields and pumpkins and whatnot. They just, they wouldn’t have made it.”

In fact, several times this year, their irrigation supply reservoir completely ran out of water.

Jaswell says, “When you’re not getting any rain, day after day, and it’s 95… 100… you know… 92 for that long stretch.”

The water itself doesn’t cost them anything, but pumping it out to the fields comes with fuel and labor costs.

Jaswell says, “Oh I’d say we’re probably 5 to 10 times more than we spent last year.”

The good news is all that hard work has apparently paid off.  He says all his crops are fine.

The next challenge is figuring out how to survive as a business during the COVID pandemic.  He says, thankfully, he’s seeing about 80 to 90 percent of his normal business.

Jaswell says, “We’re doing curbside.  We’re not letting anybody in the store.  We offer a full complement of what we normally offer.”

Their ever-popular pick-your-own apples are still available, with online reservations in advance.  Pumpkin picking starts this weekend.

There are no hayrides this year, and no concessions or eating on site, but you can take it all home to enjoy.

Jaswell suggests, “If you do have the opportunity to come out during the week, it’s much less busy.”

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2020

Categories: News, Regional News, Rhode Island