KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Farmers in Kansas City continue to feel the impact of the ongoing drought.
The latest drought monitor map, released Oct. 13, shows Jackson County is currently in the extreme drought category, with all of Missouri experiencing a similar trend.
“This is the worst that I’ve personally seen since we started growing,” said Alana Henry with Young Family Farm.
The Young Family Farm, which is located near 39th west of U.S. Highway 71, started as an urban farm eight years ago. During the height of COVID-19, the farm decided to start selling from their property.
“We believe that our mission is to help the folks in this area with access to fresh food,” Henry said. “The median household income here is approximately $29,000 a year, and so for a lot of these folks, there aren't many opportunities to purchase fresh vegetables.”
But this past year has been troubling for the farm, Henry explaining the lack of rain and extreme heat are factors playing against them. The family is used to seeing approximately 42 inches of rain. In 2022, they estimate they only have had 27 inches of rain.
A majority of crops planted during the tail-end of the summer have yet to sprout, which Henry estimates has cost them thousands of dollars, not including crops lost during the summer.
“This is actually the third planting that we've done on some of our crops,” Henry said. "Some of them didn't germinate, and the ones that did germinate died from the heat and from lack of hydration.”
The Young family isn’t alone.
Nonprofit Cultivate KC grows its own urban farms throughout the metro and helps educate farmers. Brien Darby, executive director of Cultivate KC, says the problem is widespread and is causing water bills among urban farms to go up.
Cultivate KC helps connect community gardens and farms to the KC Grow Grant Fund, a program specific to Kansas City that gives eligible farmers access to water and improves water practices.
“It's not just hot, dry weather,” Darby said. “We also have had plagues of grasshoppers and pests like we haven't seen in years in the past couple of years.”
Typically the Youngs have sales on their greens before Thanksgiving, but because of the lack of harvest they were able to yield, they are considering closing their farm by the end of this month to try to bring some of their greens back to life. They’re also looking at building a greenhouse, which is an additional cost to consider.
“Undoubtedly, prices are going up because it's costing us more money to grow crops to deal with crop loss,” Henry said.
The KC Grow Grant Fund is currently accepting applications. Eligible farmers can learn more here.