Drought Forces Howard County Farmers to Cancel Market

By Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

HOWARD COUNTY - If you're looking for fresh produce from local farmers in Big Spring, you're out of luck. This year, the annual farmer's market in Howard County has been canceled. Farmers told NewsWest 9 Thursday tough times are forcing them to shut it down.

"It's real sad. Nobody wanted to call the market off, but you can't have a market if you don't have anything to sell," Sherry Newton, an organizer of the Howard County Farmer's Market, explained.

Nearly every farmer in Howard County is hurting after a bad year. Sherry and Marion Newton, who live just north of Big Spring, said there's no question why.

"Until this very day, we've only had about an inch and a half or less rain on this place," Newton said. "Some of the other vendors have had a little bit less, some have had a little bit more, but that's not very much."

In addition, high winds and triple digit temperatures have taken their toll on Newton's vegetables. She said they aren't getting enough minerals from natural rain water.

"As you can see, and inch and half isn't going to cut it," Newton added. "And no matter how much we water, it still takes God's rain to make a garden."

Farmers in Howard County are seeing the effects of the drought first hand. The okra in Newton's garden grew to about waist high last year. This year, that's not the case. Many of their vegetables, including squash, usually grow higher, too. On the other side of the garden, many of the tomatoes are also smaller.

Newton said one crop that still grew were onions, but as many as they have, it's still not enough to hold a market. She explained she hasn't given up on next year.

"We're hoping by next year we'll have a lot of rain, and we'll be able to do the market again," Newton said.