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Downpour Wipes Out A Third Of Northfield Farm’s Crops

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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NORTHFIELD (WCCO — Nobody in the southern part of the state needed Sunday night’s rain, it’s already water-logged.

That’s especially true for Goodhue County. The Cannon River spilled over its banks Thursday night, prompting the evacuation of several homes and businesses. City leaders will be out Monday surveying the damage to get a better idea of how much it’ll cost to fix things.

That same storm washed out a small family-owned farm in Northfield.

The Laughing Loon farm provides food for thousands at St. Olaf College and for restaurants here in the Twin Cities. Dayna Brutness, the owner of the farm, grows organic vegetables on the five acres of land just outside Northfield.

Her dream of harvesting fresh veggies was washed away when nine inches of rain invaded her crops.

“The third of that will be probably unusable because we lost so much top soil and the rushing river that formed and flowed through the farm actually deposited a couple of inches of sand a quarter acre of rocks and stones,” Brutness said.

So what used to be rows of peppers, eggplant, radishes and spinach now looks more like a sandbar in the middle of a river.

Pictures from before the rain and after show just how hard the Laughing Loon Farm was hit.

“You can see a lot of erosion. A lot of sand and rocks have been deposited on top of the top soil,” Brutness said.

Dayna says healthy soil means healthy veggies, but in this case, the soil is nowhere to be found.

“It took hundreds of years to form that top soil and it was just gone in a few hours,” said Brutness.

The water surrounded the green house, about three feet of that rushing rapid running through the crops ended up there, the chickens did not fare well either.

“We lost some of the chickens because they drowned,” Said Brutness.

Dayna lost about $15,000 in product, but she refuses to give up.

“This is my first year farming on my own and I didn’t grow up on a farm I learned how to farm when I was in college so this year is my make it or break it year,” Brutness said.

For now, she will regroup and hope for dryer days in the future.

“You really focus on the land that you have left,” said Brutness.

As a beginning farmer, Brutness is not eligible for crop insurance because she doesn’t have a record of past harvest.

If you would like to donate your time or money to the Laughing Loon Farm, visit their website.

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