Local farmers impacted by smoke

Ashland, Or.- The aisles at the farmer market in Ashland are normally filled with people, but this Tuesday they were filled with smoke, instead.

“We’re hoping it goes away quickly,” Mary Ellen DeLuca, market operations manager for the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market said.

Since smoke settled over the region the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market has seen about a 50 percent decrease in visitors.

“The aisles are usually pretty full at this time of the day, DeLuca said.

Even vendors have canceled due to the bad air quality.

“We have about 10 less vendors at market. Normally we have about 70 but today we have 60.” DeLuca said.

Farmer Ben Yohai, owner of Wandering Fields has been a vendor at the market since 2009 and says he’s never seen haze this bad for so long.

“There’s day where its hard to see half a mile across the way,” he said.

It isn’t just sales that are taking a hit the smoke has created a challenge for many farms.

“We are noticing a major dip in production on some of the fruit crops,” Yohai said.

With the haze acting as a barrier the sun isn’t able to help fruits and vegetables grow at the rate it should be.

“Stuff like lettuce that is ordinarily gaining size right now for the fall harvest is growing a lot more slower than usual,” he said.

But regardless of the weather regular customers are determined to get their groceries.

“People are wearing face masks and others are more affected emotionally by the smoke,” DeLuca said.”But we’re just here and doing our best and keeping a smile on our face and going forward.”

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