I’m writing this in my office in the basement of the old family farm home, which was my bedroom as a kid. You could say I haven’t gone very far in life.
Actually, it started many decades ago with a formative period lasting to age 18 as the only boy on this family farm in Washington State. We grew Winesap apples for apple rings and concord grapes for the National Grape Cooperative Association.
Now as I approach ‘senior citizenship’ and am lucky enough to have been instrumental in the building of the Pink Lady® apple brand over the last dozen years, I still really only know one thing for sure: change is ongoing to the point that it is, indeed, a constant.
For me this can still be seen beginning at ground level, where our 40 acres was considered large back then compared to surrounding farms. Today, apple farms are usually 10 times or more larger.
Orchard and vineyard designs have evolved to a point that allows inputs to be precisely monitored, and the human touch in the field is beginning to give way to robotics.
While my mind does occasionally drift back to the ‘good old days’ on the family farm, the inevitable changes there are really a positive thing for farmers aiming to remain profitable and and match their obligation to feed a growing world population.
It’s exciting to see all of this state-of-the-art technique being applied on the farm and critical to portray it realistically to the folks consuming the resulting food and fiber.
Even though constant change will continue and being down on the farm will never be the same as what I enjoyed during my childhood, the stories that come from today’s fruit operations are no less intriguing. What is happening on today’s farms vividly displays a true story of innovation, far from the alarming picture many want consumers to experience.
Happening at the same time is a population signaling its desire to know more about where its food comes from, how it was grown, and how it gets to them. Some even want as much of that food as possible to be produced locally.
This is indeed a big difference from those apparently believing their food magically grows in the back room in the supermarket, and a valuable shift for those farmer/marketers choosing to deal directly with the consuming public. Like our crop fields, this interest needs to be nurtured.