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Drought is driving up costs on Sparland family's farm

On a typical Saturday morning, Ginger and Tony Malek can be found in a booth on the Peoria riverfront, selling homegrown vegetables at the farmer’s market. What the customer doesn’t realize is how much effort goes into supplying the produce before them, especially in severe drought conditions.

The Maleks own Grandma & Grandpa’s Farm in Sparland. In a time of undependable rainfall, they're using drip irrigation to keep their crops watered. That's the practice of running water directly into the soil. It's a costlier method, and it often creates difficulties for the Malek family.

“Sometimes those emitters get clogged up just due to rust, so there may be pockets where nothing is getting watered,” Ginger Malek explained.

Taking care of the family farm is no small ordeal, either. That's especially true during a drought.

“I was out at 5 a.m. this morning, and I will probably be in by 8:30 tonight,” Ginger Malek said, “But normally, we don’t have to run drip irrigation to get our [produce] to germinate.”

Vegetables are still flourishing for now with the methods the Maleks have at their disposal. However, with the dry spell predicted to worsen, it is a battle against time for the farmers affected by the severity of the drought.

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