Imagine this: It’s mid-May, and flowers are exploding out of the ground.

Imagine this: It’s mid-May, and flowers are exploding out of the ground. You wade through the sea of marketgoers at your favorite local farmers’ market, just opened for the season, looking for Estrella Family Creamery, because you have to have some of that Guapier for your first grill-out of the season. But when you get there, there is no Guapier, because the Freak Storm of February ’08 wreaked such havoc on the Estrellas’ operation – blew down the barn, froze cows in their tracks – that even they, starlets of Seattle’s farmers’ market system and producers of now world-renowned cheese, couldn’t quite recover financially. Imagine what the other farmers are dealing with.One of the rough parts (of many) about being an independent farmer is that there’s no bail-out, no big corporate money to swoop in and save the day when the going gets tough. Unless you’re lucky enough to be a farmer around here. The Neighborhood Farmers’ Market Alliance has recently created The Good Farmer Fund, a charity designed to help Seattle markets’ farmers and ranchers stay afloat in the aftermath of weather-related crises. Created in response to the storms of December 2006, The Good Farmer Fund is basically an emergency pool of cash for times like last week, when half of western Washington went underwater. Last week, the Estrellas lost power for four days, but everyone (and all the cheese) came out fine. Other farms were completely submerged, and the Fund stepped in, helping the folks hit the hardest.So c’mon, it’s the giving season. Cough it up for your local farmers. You’ll be thankful in the summer, when they’re still around.The Good Farmer Fundc/o NFMA 4519 ? University Way NE, Suite 200 Seattle, WA 98105