From the Editor: Going beyond useful
By Alex Barnard
Much is made of the fruit and vegetable sector’s importance in feeding the world – and for good reason. Plenty of produce is needed for people to thrive. But there are other, less tangible benefits from fruit and vegetable production that deserve appreciation, too.
For most growers, there has to be a direct purpose for growing a specific fruit or vegetable, and it has to be worthwhile. It’s necessary to make decisions when there’s only so much time and resources, and focusing on return-on-investment (ROI) is one way to ensure there’s something gained for what you put into the world.
As Teri Jenkins of Brown Sugar Produce states in Steph Coelho’s story on how CSAs are handling climate change (read it on page 8), crops that need really intensive management often aren’t worth growing when there are other crops that will do better with less effort.
From a business perspective, this is practical advice and makes complete sense. However, when this utilitarianism takes over other aspects of life, many quiet joys go by the wayside.
As I write this, it’s late October and I’ve just spent the afternoon carving pumpkins with the friends in my COVID bubble. Going out to one of the local farms, finding the perfect pumpkin (or four), dusting off my rusty, once-a-year carving skills – it’s the quintessential fall experience, in my opinion. For others this might be apple-picking, going to the nearest fall fair, eating the first winter squash, or getting lost in a corn maze.
Many of the most iconic fall experiences are rooted in agriculture. For many of us, fall wraps up the growing season, making it a great time to celebrate the victories of the year, big and small.
The 2021 season – and the past year and a half in general – has had more than its fair share of difficulties, whether in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, roadblocks in bringing in temporary foreign workers and other skilled labourers, drought, flooding, pests and diseases, and the more garden-variety challenges of the average season.
As you wind down in the field, be sure to take some time to congratulate yourself and your team on getting through another year, whether by the skin of your teeth or with a bumper crop. Surely the winter will bring lots of tasks and work to be completed, but in between, try to do something that has absolutely no value beyond bringing you some happiness. The time for pumpkin-carving may have passed, but with winter and the holidays on the horizon, there are plenty of other opportunities. Might I suggest making a snowman?