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Canadian Wildfires Impact Pennsylvania Produce Farms
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 06/09/2023

Canadian wildfires have caused significant disruptions for local produce farms in Pennsylvania, affecting operations and posing health risks to farm workers. Emma de Long, owner of Kneehigh Farm near Pottstown, noticed the smoke's impact on her crew early on Wednesday. Concerned about their well-being, she gave them the option to wear masks or go home.

Despite wearing masks, the smoke's effects became increasingly uncomfortable, with burning eyes and a pervasive smoky taste and smell.

The situation worsened on Thursday when air quality reached hazardous levels, leading de Long to cancel the day's work. However, she remains optimistic, planning to resume operations and harvest on Friday. With the upcoming farmers market on Saturday, de long hopes that the air quality will improve to allow for a normal market day. The market is crucial for her income, as it supports the farm's payroll.

Ben Davies, who operates Wildfox Farm in Barto, Berks County, faced similar challenges. His employees were given the choice to wear masks or stay home, and most opted to work. However, one employee had to leave early due to a headache caused by the smoke. Davies is hopeful that these hazardous conditions will be temporary but acknowledges the uncertainty of the situation.

To protect their workers, both farms plan to limit outdoor activities and conduct essential tasks as early as possible. The farmers' resilience and adaptability demonstrate their commitment to continuing operations despite the adverse conditions. They recognize that the growth of their crops cannot be halted, and they are determined to navigate these challenges to ensure the availability of fresh produce for their customers.

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