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Cook Farm Suffers 'Total Loss' in Historic Flood

 The vegetable field at Cook Farm after floodwaters receded
Cook Farm
The vegetable field at Cook Farm after floodwaters receded.

Rainfall produced by last month's storms in McLean County obliterated once-in-a-century projections for the area.

Cook Farm, just south of Bloomington, saw 10 inches of rain in just two days. The farm's vegetable field ended up covered in over 6 feet of floodwater.

Dylan Cook runs the farm with his partner, Chelsea Meiss. Cook said the amount of water that overtook the field was "shocking."

"We certainly anticipated flooding. But we did not anticipate it like that," he said.

Though the waters eventually receded, the farm suffered a total loss. All of the crops were killed, damaged, or washed away.

The vegetable field sits at the confluence of three creeks in Heyworth. The creeks' watersheds all took on massive levels of rainfall during the storms. The resulting floodwaters, Cook said, are toxic, meaning the farm can't replant right away.

So together with his partner, Cook made the difficult decision to close the farm for the "foreseeable future."

"Given where we are in the season, there's not going to be a whole lot we can do on the crop end this year," he said.

Cook Farm distributes its produce through the Downtown Bloomington Farmers Market, farm shares, and local grocery stores. It also services restaurants in the Chicago area. Cook has spent the past week breaking the news to everyone that will be affected by the farm's losses.

"We're fortunate that staff, customers, vendors, business partners — everybody has been more than understanding, more than kind, more than supportive," Cook said.

The farm is offering full refunds to anyone with unused balances on a farm share.

As far as rebuilding, Cook said he isn't yet sure what that will entail. But he said he maintains a "quiet hope" the farm will plant again.

This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Mr. Cook's name.

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Sarah Nardi is a WGLT reporter. She previously worked for the Chicago Reader covering Arts & Culture.
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