On Tuesday night, Judith Redmond was alarmed by the thick brown smoke that clouded the air as she drove the 75 miles back from the Berkeley farmers’ market to Full Belly Farm in the Capay Valley. By Wednesday morning, she woke up to the ridge surrounding the valley engulfed by an inferno—part of what has become known as LNU Lightning Complex Fires—creeping dangerously close to the valley floor. Weathered by the 2018 County Fire, Redmond began to think logistics: how would she ensure the safety of her workers and neighbors with health conditions and animals that need to be moved?
Others, like rancher and organic cotton grower Sally Fox wouldn’t get the chance to ask themselves that question. Fox had to evacuate her farm and relocate her animals that same night.
And as the group of fires tore through nearby Pleasant Valley, the small farming community woke to abrupt knocks on their door giving them 10 minutes’ notice to leave. Alexis Koefoed of Soul Food Farm, whose farm was previously damaged in a 2009 fire, begged authorities for an extra 10 minutes to let out her livestock, certain they’d be gone by the morning if she did not.
Miraculously, they survived, though many…
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