Like thousands of other Beavercreek Twp. residents, members of the Osborne family at the Oasis Aqua Farm on Beaver Valley Road are cleaning up. A Memorial Day tornado destroyed their small aquaponics farm, which produced fresh lettuce, kale and other crops year-round.
The plastic around the greenhouse is ripped open and hanging in threads. The perch and bluegill that once fertlized the romaine and kale plants are dead. The roof is gone from the 19th century barn, built with hand hewn beams. Other outbuildings at the Oasis Aqua Farm are in splinters. Only stumps and log piles remain of centuries-old maple and oak trees that surrounded the 200-year-old farmhouse.
Kimball, his wife Stephanie and their two daughters, took refuge in the dark cellar during the storm.
“It was scary and dark,” Stephanie said. “You never know if you’re going to make it or not. I mean, it’s a tornado. It can kill you. I was more worried for my children with their lives ahead of them than myself but it was scary for all of us.”
The children were scared as flying debris struck the house. Dirt blew in and lightning flashed into the cellar through vented windows.
The family didn’t emerge from the cellar until about three in the morning, approximately four hours after the tornado swept through. The storm only caused a few minor damages to the roof and siding on the house, which Kimball said was built with 12-inch-thick walls.
“It’s amazing. We’re not really religious for the most part but our house from the aerial view is shaped like the cross. I mean, it could be a sign,” Stephanie said.
Kimball said he was fairly optimistic they would be OK, despite checking outside during a lull in the storm and seeing the roof of the barn gone, hearing gas spewing from the greenhouse’s 1,000-gallon propane tank and seeing a live power line down across the deck.
“I’ve been in hurricanes. There’s not much you can do. At that point, your fate is sealed. So it’s like, whatever happens at least I’m with my family,” he said.
The Osborne’s initially thought it would take a year just to get the property cleaned up. But there has been an outpouring of support from co-workers, friends and other businesses.
On Thursday, about 20 people from Spinoza’s Pizza, which bought basil and lettuce from the farm, came out to help with the clean-up efforts on.
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Customers are stopping by offering support. Some are leaving cash. Others are bringing food and saying don’t worry about unfilled orders.
“People are good,” Kimball said. “People I don’t even know stopped by and said, ‘We loved your farm. We’ve never been here but we saw what you did,’ and hand us an envelope with $100 bucks in it. It’s just humbling.”
Donations can be dropped off and volunteer opportunities are available at Be Hope Church, formerly the Church of the Nazarene, 1850 N. Fairfield Road, (937) 426-3926.
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