Hurricane Irene Aftermath: The Story of Maple Downs Farm

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Sep 27, 2011
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“I didn’t have time to think about being scared.”

On August 28th, hundreds of farms in upstate New York were destroyed by massive floods caused by Hurricane Irene. No one predicted the flood water would come as quickly as it did, nor the amount of water and force that accompanied it. This is one farmer’s story: Meet David and Denise Lloyd of Maple Downs Farm, a small dairy farm in Middleburgh, NY.

David & Denise have been farming all their life. They make a living raising heritage breed Holstein cattle to supply not just fresh local dairy to our markets, but prized genetics across the world. The day of the hurricane, they lost everything: crops, cattle, equipment, homes. Right now, they are just trying to survive.

Last week, I drove three and a half hours upstate to tell their story because I know that New York City wasn’t spared by the hurricane. When you think about it, this is farmland that feeds New York, farmers that work the land and tend to their animals so we all can eat locally. If these farms don’t recover, we will see direct implications on our plates. Again, this is just one story of hundreds out there. I’ll do my best to bring you more stories over the next few weeks. And if you’re interested in helping out in any way, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I’d love to help organize something.

**A big thanks to Dean Sparks (@OrganicNYmilk1) for helping me to get access to these farmers. Dean knows quite a bit about what has happened to farms in that area, so feel free to contact him too with any questions.

Thanks so much for watching food. curated.! Support our area farmers by shopping at the greenmarkets!



  1. Donny says:

    Thank you…thank you for making this video. We definitely need to give back to the farmers. If you set something up I’ll help and support you 150%.

  2. Ray says:

    That is sad to see. My wife’s family is from Iowa (along the Mississippi River) and have dealt with this same thing many, many times. I wish them the best and as usual, Liza, great video!

  3. Thanks so much for posting this, Liza. Off to share with everyone I can think of…

  4. Barbara says:

    Thank you, Liza. I also will donate and participate when you organize something soon.

  5. Paula says:

    This is so very raw and so needed to be shared. I cannot imagine having to watch everything you worked your life for be destroyed in moments. What gracious and strong people David and Denise are and I’m sure they are indicative of all of the farmers who life’s work is to bring food to our tables. They not only deserve all the support that can be garnered but they and others so desperately need it.

  6. Mike says:

    This is my Aunt and Uncles farm. Thank you so much for telling their story!

  7. Suszyne Burch says:

    Thank you for sharing! My husband and I both worked at their farm. I was their flower girl years ago. This family is a dedicated one who works hard to keep their family farm together. It is hard enough on farmers, but this event has made it so much harder. It is such a nice story and thank you for sharing. Any support is truely appreciated. Thanks again!

  8. Elizabeth says:

    God bless your family…..

  9. Patrick Risse says:

    I am Denise’s brother and my son created this site to raise money for his aunt. Please visit
    and donate a little of help to these great people who continue to farm.

  10. michele says:

    I’m in.

  11. Christine Lyon says:

    You have no idea what it means to have this video go live. Denise is my sister and it breaks my heart everyday not to be able to afford to hand them the money they need to feed their cows or repair their house. I can only offer my daily prayers, support, and help when I can. People need to see this and you are a big part of allowing that to happen. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hey there Christine, it was so nice to hear from someone in the family. Thank you so much for leaving your thoughts here, I finally heard from your sister Denise a few days ago. She was quite moved and grateful too. I feel thankful I could help bring some broader awareness to what farms like hers face ahead. I hope I can do more too. Thanks again.

  12. Lawrence Fowler says:

    Wow Liza. What a story. Thank you so much for telling it. It’s because of you that many will be donating to “help them, help us”. And that’s the way we have to think about this. As you help others you’re actually helping yourself. Because we depend on these farms for their milk, whether we realize it or not.

    I encourage everyone to visit the site Patrick mentioned:

    Best, Lar
    Saratoga Springs, NY

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hi Lawrence. Thanks for the note last week. I really appreciate it. It was humbling to be out there with the farmers to see the damage first hand. There’s a lot of people still very much in need.

  13. Chase Emmons says:


    We’re looking for a couple of farms in need for a small benefit we are organizing in the city. Please email me and I’ll fill you in on the details.

  14. Joanna says:

    HI There,
    I work for a wine company that is looking into donating a portion of the profits of a specific wine to the farms that were victim of Irene. Do you know of, and could you put me in touch with an organization that represents a group of these victims. If not, could you point me in the right direction as to who to ask.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hi Joanna. I hope that you were able to get in touch with Peter and Dean. They would love to help you organize this. Thank you so much for your concern and donation!

  15. Peter says:


    Thanks for your concern. If you haven’t already done so, please contact Dean Sparks at to discuss this. Dean and fellow farmer Dan France know these folks personally and would be able to help you assist such farmers directly.

  16. Terrible when this happens. Thanks to people like you that become involved in helping the community like this. You will be rewarded.

  17. filmi indir says:


    I like your article. Keep working harder mate.

  18. America helping America
    After sending many tons of hay to Texas, the Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Chenango County Farm Bureau had been asked what I was going to do for the flooded farmers of NY? I bit my lower lip thinking to myself, “well what are the people that are asking going to do for these flooded farmers?” Instead of asking that question, I decided to take the high road. My daughter Kim and I made some forms. One form for farmers that needed help, another for farmers that could offer help. Our idea was to have four farms that were not affected by the flood, sponsor one that had.
    On September 27th I had plans to attend an informational meeting at Mt Upton NY for flooded farmers. I had to leave the forms with Bradd Vickers the President of the Chenango County Farm Bureau and go help load a truck for the Hay For Texas program.
    The next day I contacted Bradd and asked if any farmers filled out the forms and his answer was no.
    On October 4th, Bradd sent me a video of David and Denise Lloyd of Middleburgh NY. The video showed the devastation of their farm, brought about by tropical storm Irene. This was a very moving video that left my heart aching. Seven feet of water running through their barn, one hundred and fifty cows to milk, with crops and feed destroyed. I then sent the video onto my daughter Kim.
    Her reply was… “So what are WE going to do about this? Come on Dad, you know you can pull this off!” Kim had taken donations of supplies to Schoharie County a couple days before. She had seen the devastation first hand.
    Kim sent the video to our friend Rick Crowell and he made a CD for us to use as a tool to explain to farmers and truckers of our mission.
    Because my daughter and I are not farmers, we decided to seek professional advice. The following Sunday we went to the largest farm that I knew of, the Curtin Farm north of Bridge Water.
    We showed the video to Mr. Curtin and I asked him…
    “What is the best way to help this farm make it through the winter? Corn silage, hay, or raise money?”
    His reply was… “Cows can’t eat money… corn silage has too much water content to haul that far… so the answer is hay.”
    The next day, armed with the video, I hit the black top. I used the same technique that I used for the Hay For Texas program and went from farm to farm. This time I asked for only round bales. The reason being was that I would only need the farmer, the trucker and myself to load them. I asked farmers that had not already contributed to the Hay For Texas program. I went to northern Chenango County and lower Madison and Oneida Counties. For every farmer that donated there were five that wished they could, but didn’t have the extra feed to help. In a little more than two weeks, twelve farmers donated 110 dry round bales and 45 bales of balege. (4 tractor trailer loads) One farmer was going to have to buy hay and said they would buy some to send.
    Growmark FS of Sangerfield NY and three other truckers have stepped up to haul the hay to Middleburgh NY. ( Generously contributing truck, driver and fuel.)
    Jim Hitt of Norwich hauled the first load last week. The rest will follow as soon as the other truckers can fit them into their schedules.
    In the meantime the Lloyds have contacted me and thanked all of us for our effort. Because of us and others that have done the same, they are close to having enough feed for the winter.
    Like the Hay For Texas program, my goal was to encourage America to help America! This proves… it can be done!

    Herm Sherwood-Sitts

    Special thank you to farmers… Harlie Mason and Dennis Keith of Waterville NY. , John Schell, Trevor Rodman, Nelson Wedge, John Miedema, Eve Ann Shwartz of Earlville NY.
    Carl Carroccio of Hamilton NY, Karl Brown of Eaton NY, Bruce Tanner of Madison NY, William Larchar of New Berlin NY and Tomas Clatterbuck of West Winfield NY.

    Special thanks to truckers… Jim Hitt Norwich NY, Barney Prince Eaton NY, John Bice New Berlin NY and Growmark FS of Sangerfield NY.

  19. Charlie says:

    I can relate to this video… Nashville, TN (and surrounding areas) were flooded about 18 months ago. We lost nothing, but saw had friends who lost everything. Faith, hope and a community willing to step in and do the hard work was what impressed me. Little help came from FEMA. It’s people helping people that makes all the difference. Farmers are vital to our life. Thanks for sharing this piece. God bless them. They will come out stronger in the end. That I know. You can tell.

  20. RIC says:

    J’attend la suite . . . ça fait 3 mois qu’il n’y a plus de nouvelles videoooooooooos !!

  21. Hey There Foodcurated,
    On a similar note, If you submitted an extension for your 2010 corporation, partnership or LLC source of income tax return, this is a pleasant reminder that the September 15 owing date is just a few days absent. Are you ready?

  22. Denise Lloyd says:

    we wanted to thank you for taking time to film our story. Your video has gone across the country and then some through blogs, emails and facebook. Everyone who has seen it has complimented you in some form and manner… how well it was done, etc. I was very hesitant to say yes to having you come here, worried about how we would be portrayed, sound bites that might be misinterped but you did such a wonderful job capturing the essence of our situation and accurately portraying the situation. We appreciate your talent and efforts to help us in our road of recovery. thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
    Denise and Family

  23. Elaine Cooper says:

    The Schoharie County Historical Society is writing a book about the history of floods in the county. May we have permission to copy the Lloyd article? You will be given full credit.

    Elaine Cooper, Editor

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