A message from The Haldimand Press team
As a county, province, country, and world we all witnessed ‘normal’ go out the window this spring. Summer has remained just as different, with gathering restrictions still in place and masks now mandatory in indoor spaces. As we head into fall, new challenges are arising in the face of COVID-19. Children and young adults are set to return to school, but like everything this year it will look different than last year with staggered entry, mandatory masks for Grades 4 to 12, and more children learning from home than ever before. Of course, their education must continue, one way or another. The world cannot hit pause on preparing the next generation, nor can it hit pause on agriculture.
Harvest season is now on farmers’ minds. This is the time when they will see exactly how much of an impact the spring and summer weather had – from dry spells to sudden torrential downpours and from heat waves to cool, cloudy days – each change in the weather had a say on this year’s crop. It’s a concern that exists every year, and each farmer will be impacted differently depending on their crop and location.
Another factor is potential labour shortages. While farmers have long advocated for programs to get the next generation willing to work in agriculture, they have also relied on seasonal migrant workers from other countries to fill the gaps that local workers do not seek to fill. With COVID-19 limiting the ability of agricultural companies to host migrant workers, some crops were already lost this season and many farmers have had to put in even longer hours to keep their fields strong.
Even those who have managed to fill their normal complement of workers were faced with needing to implement new safety measures to protect their workers from COVID-19, and ultimately to protect their farm. Haldimand Norfolk has already seen the impact of COVID-19 running rampant through an agricultural enterprise, with a Vittoria farm seeing over 160 workers test positive; with so much of its workforce on the bench while in quarantine, the farm was forced to abandon hundreds of acres of asparagus.
As farmers and agricultural workers work through these additional challenges brought on in 2020, we can’t help but admire their tenacity and dedication. It is hard work, with long hours, plenty of stress, and too-often not enough thanks at the end of the day.
We here at The Haldimand Press hope that our agricultural sections will help serve as some small thanks to our local farmers and ag workers. We want you to know that we appreciate your efforts to bring fresh, local food to our tables.
The fourth annual harvest edition will explore how local foods make their way around the county, how local agricultural organizations are handling operations in the wake of COVID-19, and look at the life and work of a few of Haldimand’s agricultural workers and companies. We hope you enjoy its pages and we hope that, particularly for those not as familiar with the agricultural community, you may find something you did not know before to walk away with.