Special Report: Local farmers struggle through drought, hurricane impact amid the pandemic

Special Reports

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — This year has been rough on everyone and perhaps none have been hit harder than local farmers. A pandemic, a drought, and a hurricane have them fighting to stay alive.

Diana Garcia Padilla is the co-owner of Yahweh’s All-Natural Farm and Garden in Harlingen. When the pandemic first hit, Padilla wasn’t sure what was going to happen to their farm and their business.

“All of a sudden we had people calling every day looking for products because grocery stores didn’t have eggs because the stores didn’t have X-Y-Z,” said Padilla.

Padilla adds when they would receive phone calls they didn’t have enough product to sell. As the panic started to slow down, their business was left with fruits and vegetables, and in order for them to not go to waste, Padilla had to think outside the box.

“We started posting on Facebook and we started listing all the things that we had and then we called other farmers that practiced like us and we said whatever you have, give it to me and I’ll list it,” she said.

The pandemic was not the only thing affecting farmers and their crops, the South Texas drought was making matters worse.

“If we don’t get enough rain in the summer or if we don’t coat the soil so it’s hard for the vegetables to grow,” said Saul Padilla, farmer and co-owner of Yahweh’s All-Natural Farm and Garden.

Padilla said the lack of rain in the Rio Grande Valley in the past few months is causing him and his farmers to work twice as hard. 

“We’ve been replanting a lot because the first things that we plant, they don’t do good, so we got to replant and that usually happens… usually [we] get a lot of rain in September but after that rain, we don’t get anything,” he said.  

Not only have farmers been hit by the pandemic and the drought, but Padilla adds Hurricane Hanna left nothing but destruction to their property. He now worries as their crops begin to grow again, that they won’t sell.

“Now that we’re going to start selling, it’s going to affect us because we’re not going to be able to sell a lot,” he said.

Both Diana and Saul Padilla have one message to the community about helping local businesses. 

“That people realize the importance of the small farmers, our local food system,” said Diana Padilla.

“People need to start realizing they need to buy a little more local and support the local farmers,” said Saul Padilla.

There are still concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, but the Padilla’s said they are taking necessary precautions to keep themselves and their customers safe and hope things can soon get back to some normalcy. 

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