Farming Woes Add to Family's Grief
Death of child coincides with poor harvest
PALMER - A family in the Mat-Su Valley is struggling to stay afloat after it was hit by the unthinkable, losing a child and possibly, its business.
For the last nine months the Davis family of Palmer has been dealing with the medical realities of having a baby with cancer. Their son Gideon was diagnosed last November when he was not yet a year old.
Despite months of intensive treatment in both Anchorage and Portland hospitals, Gideon died on July 17. Mom Kathy Davis says her faith is helping her cope.
“The temptation is there to ask why did he die? Why did the treatments not work?” says Kathy. “Those are all valid questions, but what it boils down to is acceptance and understanding that God doesn’t always explain himself.”
But while the family may be doing okay spiritually, financially is another matter. Gideon’s medical bills were paid for but the Davis’s still spent all their savings during his illness. On top of that, Mother Nature has added another cruel twist, one of the worst growing seasons ever.
“My production on vegetables is probably down about 50 percent from where it was last year at this time,“ says Alex Davis.
With one of the coldest summers on record, the crops aren’t coming in as they should – it’s making it tougher to bring in the quantity Davis needs to the Center Farmer’s Market at Sears where he sells vegetables year-round.
“I’ve got lovely carrots,” says Davis pointing to a field. “It is so cold the seeds didn’t germinate, so I am already down on my yield right there.”
With fewer vegetables to sell profits are down as well. Davis says he recently had to lay off his entire crew of workers who usually help him harvest and weed. That means more work for Davis and Kathy.
“The work might crush us I mean emotionally we are already crushed,” says Davis.
It’s enough to make them feel at times that the family farm may have to go. But Kathy Davis says, not yet.
“To quit the farm, to just be done with it is not going to happen at least this year. It is something we will wait and be patient about and make the decision with clear minds.”
The last nine months have made the Davis’s fighters, and they aren’t about to quit.