An ominous sign on Interstate 88 warns motorists that Route 30 is closed miles to the south and is for “local travel only.”
But a drive down Route 30 and in other spots around the Schoharie Valley reveals that several businesses are either re-opening or they’ve been open throughout the historic disaster that befell the region.
Schoharie County is bruised, but it isn’t closed.
Cindy Barber of Barber’s Farm said the family that lost its home and 177 acres of crops to flooding had numerous other family members — their employees — operating the farm stand in the week after Hurricane Irene swept through. Within a week and a half, they went through the remaining unscathed vegetables they had picked before the storm.
It wouldn’t be Route 30 in the Schoharie Valley during harvest season if Barber’s farm stand weren’t open, so Barber said she got out her list of contacts where the family has been sending its produce and asked if the cycle could go in reverse.
Now, Barber’s is featuring products from other farms, most in New York, the rest from other agriculture operations across the Northeast.
“We’re doing the best we can to make it almost normal, but in a different way, and that is featuring others. We’re happy to let people know that this year, the pumpkins are coming from a cousin in Hobart named Dave Barber,” she said.
Barber said they later would be featuring potatoes from western New York, but it’s so muddy there that the potatoes now at the stand are from Rhode Island.
She’s working to stock the shelves with the things people expect to see: winter squashes, onions, garlic and other favorites.
Barber said another gem overlooked in the post-disaster chaos is the Breakabeen General Store farther south off of Route 30 on Clauverwie Road in Breakabeen.
Since the Grand Union in Middleburgh was shut down by the flood, the general store’s been the primary spot to buy groceries or just about anything else — the store’s motto on its Facebook page reads, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.”
“That’s another one of the businesses along just this portion of the road that, as far as the world knows, has just been cut off,” Barber said.
James Corcoran at the Breakabeen General Store on Friday said they’ve been open since Monday, Aug. 29 — the day people awoke to a landscape ravaged by the historic flood.
Up in Esperance, another annual feature of autumn — the Pick a Pumpkin Pumpkin Patch on Creek Road — is opening today, the first day in October, as it has for 26 years.
“It’s just going to be kind of different,” owner Lois VanDerwerken said.
The business, which sees 50,000 or more guests in a good October, lost hundreds of pumpkins in the flood, but it’s getting others shipped in.
The farm’s barn was underwater, the refrigerators and other appliances in the snack bar were lost and the bridge to their corn maze floated away.
But though you can’t actually pick a pumpkin at the pumpkin patch, there will be pumpkins for sale, hay rides, doughnuts and fudge, the gift shop and a snack bar.
School field trips were canceled this year but will resume for 2012.
Schoharie Valley Farms’ Carrot Barn, a retail outlet that carries local goods and offers lunch, soup and fresh vegetables, was also open that Monday, Aug. 29.
Though the farm lost thousands of dollars worth of vegetables, owner Richard Ball said residents that day needed a place to go to see neighbors, hear what happened in different places and get a cup of coffee.
Traffic today, however, isn’t as heavy as it would usually be at the Carrot Barn.
Many of the operation’s customers don’t have homes or kitchens now, Ball said, so there’s sufficient goods for anyone thinking about driving down.
“This is a time of year when people typically come to this valley,” he said, adding that they should come this year, too: Though many business have reopened, the destruction in the valley is visible, and seeing it helps people understand how much help is needed in the Schoharie County communities.
Along with the mud and debris, the rolling hills and puffy clouds that crown them are still there, like they are every autumn, Ball said.
“It’s still beautiful up above, and every day another businesses is opening up in town. And boy, do they really need support,” Ball said.
“We still need people to come, now more than ever.”
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Categories: Schenectady County