Janet and I are doing as fine as any have a right to expect in the current situation. The decision we made many years ago to pursue a rural life and livelihood is now paying dividends. Yes, we get frustrated with the imposition of "self quarantine" and the necessity of "social distancing," but we are so fortunate to have open space, a degree of self-sufficiency, our family close, and no end of interesting activity to share. It must be especially difficult for urban dwellers with limited means living in in tight spaces.
I have been "reborn" in the garden this year. I figure that if we are going to have an economic depression, it should not be a reason for starvation! We planted the biggest garden we have had in several seasons, with more of all the essentials and including some vegetable crops we haven't grown in years. I spend a part (often a large part) of every day in the garden. Gardening is wonderful therapy--especially in times like these--for restoring optimism and faith. Martin Luther, once asked what he would do if he knew with certainty that the world would end tomorrow, responded that he would plant an apple tree.
My youngest grandson and his mother began a watermelon plant from seed in a flower pot at home and we transplanted it into Grandma and Grandpa's garden at planting time. Its progress is the first business Oscar excitedly attends to upon arriving at the farm. A tiny yellow flower the vine arrived with has already developed into a softball sized fruit, and now several more are forming. He also helped Grandpa plant the onions, taking the left over sets home so that he could teach his parents what he had learned that day.
Business-wise, our farm is implementing a "pandemic plan:" The biggest change for this year is that we will not pack any bulkbox fruit. Like the meat packing industry, berry packing work involves long hours, indoors, shoulder-to-shoulder across a moving belt from other workers. We just felt we couldn't guarantee worker health and safety. We will hire some help to pick into pints in the field and offer this fruit with minimal sorting as fresh ready-picked berries at the farm. It is unlikely we will freeze anything. Even if we could strategize a plan for worker-safe berry packing, a poll of our commercial bulk berry customers (we sell a lot into schools and restaurants) indicates that they are not likely to renew their inventories of frozen fruit until they can open again.
We expect to be able to offer a safe experience for Pick-Your-Own blueberry and raspberry customers. The activity is, afterall, outside and our fields are large--no reason to crowd. Jon has constructed an outdoor checkout booth in front of our sales shop with a plexiglass barrier between customer and cash register. Despite a lot of winter bush damage from the heavy snows in November, the crop is looking pretty good after spring pruning and clean-up. Our strawberry-growing colleagues on the hill have reported large turnouts of pickers for their harvest now in progress. We become more optimistic for the blueberry harvest as the 2020 season draws near.
Hopefully by summer 2021 there will be a covid vaccine as well as therapeutic interventions and a degree of restored normalcy to our social interactions. We are all well here--healthy, content, and secure for the time being--but eager for the day when we will be to be able to safely socialize again in a wider world.