One of the hardest parts of the social distancing requirement brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is that people were not created by God to be socially distant. We are all made in the image of God as social beings.
The conventional wisdom goes that farmers are used to social distancing. After all, they live out in the country and often work alone or with a few family members and hired help. Certainly, farmers don’t work in crowded offices or take a jam-packed subway train into work every day. But they are not socially isolated. The social distancing requirement is just as taxing on them as it is to the Wall Street hedge fund manager who works in a Manhattan skyscraper.
Most farmers are active in church, Farm Bureau and commodity groups. They catch up with their fellow farmers at the local restaurant and go to Extension meetings and crop field days. They are not socially isolated. But all of this fell by the wayside because of the coronavirus catastrophe.
The talk goes that field days and farmer meetings can now be held virtually. No need to risk getting sick by gathering with your friends. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. Looking at research plots and learning from Extension specialists and university researchers from your laptop or smart phone is not the same as loading a trailer and examining the work first-hand.
The Virginia Small Grains Field Day set for May 21 at the Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Education Center has been changed to a virtual event. The presentations will be pre-recorded and uploaded on YouTube. The field day itself will still be held on May 21 at 9 a.m., but it will be done by Zoom. This is great, but it’s not the same as an in-person event.
Sadly, the Northeast Ag Expo Field Day scheduled for July 30 at Wingfield Farms in Tyner, N.C., has been cancelled. Pasquotank County Extension Agent Al Wood notes that the research plots could not be planted easily or within the university guidelines. Plus, the uncertainly of allowing people to gather prompted the decision to cancel the field day this year,
As it stands now, the Blacklands Farm Mangers Tour set for Aug. 5 at Coastal Carolina Gin in Pantego, N.C., and the Virginia Ag Expo set for Aug. 6 at Bleak House Farm in Lostburg, Va., are still on. Time will tell.
Hopefully, come August, the social distance requirement will be eased, and we will be able to load the trailers, examine the research plots and hear great presentations live and in person as we have done for about as long as Extension has been around. If not, that would be a sad and profound tragedy.