‘We’ve gotten more than our cupful’: Rain patterns impacting local farms

MEDWAY, Mass. — It’s just about Brassica season at the Medway Community Farm -- that is, time to get the broccoli, cauliflower and collard plants into the ground.

Once it stops raining.

“I think we’ve gotten more than our cupful,” said Farm Manager Todd Sandstrum.


“We had nearly nine inches of rain in Boston for March,” said Boston 25 Meteorologist Vicki Graf. “That’s a lot of water. That brings us about five inches over the average for the month.”

For the year, Boston is running about six inches above normal rainfall -- with 17 inches falling during the winter months.

“It feels like it’s becoming this new normal for us, where we’re not seeing as much snow and the seasons are shifting a little bit late,” Graf said.

In fact, you might call this Boston’s winter that never was. From January through March, daytime temperatures dipped to freezing or below just eight times. Most of the snow that was predicted to fall came as rain -- with a resulting snow deficit of at least two feet.

That kind of shift in the weather is felt acutely down on the farm.

“It’s a combination of the amount or volume of rain, but also the cloudy days,” Sandstrum said. “The soil doesn’t dry off as much. So that delays us in getting out there and cultivating our fields.”

Clouds and rain also limit soil heating, which can have a dramatic impact on crop growth.

Another problem this winter for farmers has been the lack of cold, combined with rain that came in heavy, concentrated spurts.

“In the past, we’ve had a really good freezing of the ground,” said Sandstrum.

But not this year. And that’s led to actual damage to the fields -- with the heavy rains washing valuable topsoil away.

If the weather pattern persists, consumers could see fewer early spring vegetables available -- and at a higher cost.

In the long run, Sandstrum is not looking for farming to get any easier.

“The seasons have shifted,” he said. “In the last five years, as I look at it from an agricultural point of view, it’s definitely speeding up -- not slowing down.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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