By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
VITTORIA—Scotlynn Group, a major local producer with a variety of crops, has been forced to abandon its’ asparagus crops this spring after an outbreak of COVID-19 saw 164 workers test positive for COVID-19.
The farm yields approximately 450 acres of asparagus per year, which is roughly 12% of the annual provincial yield of the vegetable. The estimated loss in terms of weight is around three million pounds. According to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs the average wholesale price of asparagus was $2 a pound last year. That adds up to around $6 million in losses, in addition to the $700,000 investment Scotlynn Group made earlier this spring to place its’ migrant workers in hotels for their two-week quarantine upon arriving in Canada.
After the outbreak, Scotlynn Group attempted a hiring blitz, offering local residents $25 dollars an hour to help harvest the crops in socially isolated groups of five. The offer brought out many workers, some of whom volunteered to work for free to help save the crop, however the effort was unsuccessful, due to a combination of factors including inexperienced workers and time constraints brought on by the warmer weather.