Home Gardeners and Farmers Alike Take Steps to Protect Crops During Heatwaves and Drought

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

The recent spell of consecutive days in the mid-90-degree range meant had gardeners stepping up their efforts to keep plants watered.

It was even more important for full-time farmers, such as Pleasant Valley Gardens in Methuen. Owner Heather Bonanno-Baker was a recent guest on WHAV’s morning program, and explained how they took care of their crops.

“So our crops are all on drip irrigation and we have an irrigation pond in our field that we sometimes have to fill up from the river, but we haven’t had to do any of that today. We’re right on the Merrimack River. So far this year we haven’t had to do that. So, even though we are in a drought, all these torrential downfalls we get helps keep the pond full,” she says.

Bonanno-Baker took over Pleasant Valley Gardens when her father, Rich Bonanno, took a job at North Carolina State University as associate dean of its Agriculture and Sciences Center, and also became the head of the Statewide Extension Service. Bonanno-Baker is a 2013 graduate of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass Amherst, and has been involved in farming since she was eight, when her parents started giving her chores

“It’s good to get people involved in agriculture when they’re young, so they start enjoying it and they want to be farming and take over these farms from people who don’t have anyone in their families to pass their farms onto. They’re just selling their land, and if young farmers aren’t there taking it over, our farmland is going to die out,” She explains.

Bonanno-Baker is also involved in strengthening Massachusetts agriculture, serving as president of the Essex County Farm Bureau, along with taking on the job of state chair of Massachusetts Young Farmers and Ranchers and being involved with the organizations’ education and promotion committee.

Pleasant Valley Gardens is located at 255 Merrimack St., Methuen.

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