As I sat down to write this column, I found myself struggling to ignore the notebooks and folders piled around me on my dining room table at home.
The chaos is hard to miss.
It’s sadly fitting right now, given the state of the world, and yet there’s so much solace to be had in those piles: I have my health, a job, plenty to distract me and the ability to work from home as a safety precaution for myself, loved ones and others.
At press time, more than 20 states had issued some form of a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order to try to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, including Washington state and Michigan, where the Good Fruit Grower has offices. Our employees are taking those orders seriously, as everyone should, even as we continue to work to keep you up to date — whether it’s the latest on the outbreak and how it affects you, on our website at goodfruit.com, or new industry and research developments in each issue of the magazine.
We are thankful that states have recognized the need for agriculture to continue to provide a vital service in this time of uncertainty. And while uncertainty is nothing new to growers — hello Mother Nature — this virus sweeping the globe brings a new reality, one we all share. As Associate Editor Ross Courtney aptly put it during a planning meeting: “We’re playing a game as the rules are being written.” Except it’s no game, and the impacts of it will last for months.
Agricultural workers might be exempt from shelter-in-place orders, but many new measures must be considered to protect their health and safety in orchards, vineyards and packing houses. The labor supply may be affected — housing certainly will be — and social distancing will be a new norm.
You’re bound to have questions. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us online, by phone or email to alert us to developments in your area or to seek information. With the help of the many industry support and educational groups, we aim to answer your questions as best we can, coronavirus-related or not.
We may ask for your help, as well. As events are canceled and as we reduce travel in the weeks ahead, we may reach out to some of you for photos in your orchard or vineyard to help illustrate a point or story, or for your thoughts on a subject. (If we call, don’t be surprised to hear the squeal of little ones or a barking dog in the background; our new co-workers are not always sold on social distancing.)
Please don’t be shy about sharing. The goal is to help educate everyone and to assist the industry at large. We’re in a constantly changing landscape — and yet, trees are blooming. The work goes on.
Together, we’ll find a way through this chaos.
—by Shannon Dininny