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C.O. farms receive grants to recover from late-May hailstorm

(Update: Adding video, comments from farm owners)

TERREBONNE, Ore. (KTVZ) - The May 30 super-cell storm that ripped through much of Central Oregon dropped large hail and caused extensive damage to crops, leaving some farms in financial uncertainty. But some help is at hand.

Thanks to a $15,000 donation from a local family foundation, the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance was able to distribute $3,500 in relief funds to some of the farms hit hardest by the storm.

The farms receiving the grants include Sakari Farms, Rainshadow Organics, Crown C Farms and 4 Acre Farm.

Rainshadow Organics near Sisters reported three successions of summer crops were shredded, along with significant flooding, while 4 Acre Farm near Madras lost a 12-by-20-foot greenhouse.

Spring Schreiner, the owner of Sakari Farms in Tumalo, told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday when the hailstorm came in, she first thought it was “quite beautiful” and that the skies reminded her of the Midwest.

But Schreiner said they lost about 80 percent of their crops and suffered damage to their greenhouse and other structures.

“The relief grant helped us do recovery work here on the farm by helping us buy more seeds, rebuilding some of the structures we’d lost during the hailstorm, and providing more labor on the farm,” she said.

Jim Crocker, who owns Crown C Farms in Terrebonne with his wife, Laura, said hail did not pass through their farm, but the storm damaged 21 of their beehives and eliminated all of their queen bees. 

“One of the losses we had was not only the honey, but we lost our pollinators,” he said.

Crocker said strong winds ripped through much of his crops and rain flooded the fields.

“We could see it,” he said. “The sky was dark. The storm was coming from the south, and we don’t normally get storms that track that way.”

He said they rely on their bees for pollination for many of their vegetable crops, and this year, they will not have a squash crop.

“It’s funny -- you get really attached to bees,” Crocker said. “You’ve got 63,000 workers helping you out during the summer in a hive, and when you lose them all, it’s like, ‘Gosh, darn it! That’s kind of on me.’”

Crocker added that in the more than 30 years he has lived in Central Oregon, he has never experienced a storm quite like the one that passed through the High Desert that day.

He and Schreiner both said they are very appreciative of the relief grants provided by the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance. They said although this year has been rough, they have a lot to look forward to next year.

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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.


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