farming

Ghost farmers in the sky
And how rock plowing saved the swamp

Swamp buggies sort of resemble tractors …

But the days of farming The Big Cypress are long gone.

The furrows are easy to see from the air

As easy as the furrows are to see from the sky …

At ground level you’d swear they weren’t there.

But invisible from ground view

Sometimes you have to be far away to properly focus in. It also raises the question. What caused so much agricultural land to be abandoned? By the time the Preserve was established in 1974, the era of tomato farming had come and gone. The reason? Apparently the advent of rock plowing on the Miami coast made farming in the flood prone swamp economically unfeasible. Nothing against tomatoes and as sorry as I am for the farmers who were put out of business, I’m oodles more happy for the marl prairies that recolonized by and large with native plants.

(Not so) subtle subsidence

South of the Lake, the oldest houses are on stilts …

As a result of land subsidence due to oxidation of the farmed peat.

The Lake used to naturally flow south. 
Now it’s stuck behind a levee except
for a few gates.

That in part explains why the levee is so tall:

Forty two feet above sea level and 143 miles around.

Subsidence also explains why south Florida uses water pumps.

Water no longer gravity drains like it once did.

Subsidence is hard to imagine, let alone see.

But there’s nothing subtle about its impact on the Everglades.

Old farming footprint

Swamp buggies sort of resemble tractors …

But the days of farming The Big Cypress are long gone.

Can you see the furrows?

Tamiami Trail near Barnes
Strand (behind) looking East
mid June 20th, 2017

Yes, the furrows are visible from the sky.

But from ground level you’d swear they weren’t there.

How about now?

Ground view
looking East

Sometimes you have to be far away to properly focus in.

Tomato field below!

Here we are looking north at the Tamiami Trail,

with the parking lot to the Kirby Storter boardwalk the right.

Can you see the farmer
working his field on the
ground below?

But what really sticks out is the old farm furrows below.

Tomatoes were planted there some five or six decades ago.

Me neither, I can’t even
(or just barely) see

the furrows from
the ground

Here’s the view of the same parking lot from the ground.

Both photos were taken after a prescribed burn on March 30th.

That’s why the landscape is a strange mix of green and brown.