This is a time of unprecedented anxiety for our nation, and many more throughout the world. One only has to look at twitter and LinkedIn to understand the plethora of opinions - many very positive and sadly some very negative!
As a pair of old fogies, my wife and I have been the recipients of offers of help: shopping etc. and this kindness to neighbours is a countrywide demonstration of all the good and caring members of society!
Sadly some through selfishness and/or ignorance have performed stupid and in some cases disgusting acts against the very people trying their best to help them. One story of six ambulances in East Kent, where some idiot drilled holes in the tyres, beggars belief.
Joining our neighbours clapping our wonderful and brave NHS workers last night, demonstrated the appreciation felt my most of the population for their sterling effort on our behalf.
This message from a young lady in Spain regarding her father who is a Doctor on the front line fighting this evil virus portrays the dangers and anxiety suffered by innocent souls.
"Most positive cases run with mild, flu-like symptoms that can be handled with NSAIDs and rest. It is estimated only 14% of cases need intensive care, most of them are patients in high-risk groups. My dad is not in that group. We think he is in a critical state because he was very, very stressed when he caught the virus and stress leads to a weak immune system.
My point is, even though chances are low, just because you're young and healthy does not mean you won't have a hard time if infected!
Health professionals are not risking their lives every day for you to be living like nothing is happening.
The same thing goes for cashiers, pharmacists, police. Use your head and be respectful: stay home, especially if you have symptoms (cough, low fever, feeling like you have no air). I know it sucks and weekdays may seem long, but our individual actions influence our global consequences"
Growing fruit and vegetables
In the world in which I live, producers of fruit and vegetables depend heavily on migrant labour. A few months ago the challenge was Brexit and access to harvest workers. Now the challenge is Coronavirus and closure of borders.
Even if some Romanians & Bulgarians can get here, the standard system of travelling by bus is no longer allowed. There are still some flights but it is much more expensive and the cost must be met either by the worker or the grower. Either way much more expensive than before.
As we enter the new growing season, the homegrown produce which is critical to a healthy diet is severely at risk if there is no-one to harvest and pack it.
Initiatives are coming forward daily (maybe even hourly) and in this week's Journal, I highlight two.
Click on BARDSLEY ENGLAND for a message from Ben Bardsley
Press Release - Angus Growers
An opportunity to work in a progressive industry and help assure the supply of fresh fruit on our Superamarket shelves
Scottish berry growers launch a recruitment drive for temporary workers affected by coronavirus-related redundancies
- Angus Growers farms in Scotland need over 3,000 workers to pick fresh berries this season
- Soft Fruit supplier calls on public to unite in new Feed Our Nation campaign
A group of Scottish berry growers have launched a large-scale recruitment drive to encourage people in Scotland who have been affected by recent coronavirus-related redundancies to come and work on their farms.
Angus Growers is a group of 19 Scottish farmers who last year produced over 12,400 tonnes of fresh berries for consumers across the UK. However, this year they are anticipating a shortfall of 3,200 workers, almost 80% of their workforce, as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its impact on workers coming into the UK from mainland Europe.
On Friday, the UK Government announced workers involved in the production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery of food would be classed as critical workers and that their children would be prioritised by education providers.
James Porter the, soft fruit grower for Angus Growers, who is also NFU Scotland's horticulture chair, explains: "We are entering an unprecedented time. As restrictions on our day-to-day lives increase and challenges build, the Scottish horticultural industry has a critical role to play in helping us maintain our health and nutritional wellbeing.
"For many years the Scottish berry industry has relied on recruiting workers from mainland Europe to provide seasonal labour to pick our crops due to a severe lack of availability of local workers. Due to ever growing travel restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus, we are now facing a shortfall of almost 80% of the workers required in Scotland to pick our crops this season.
"I know that many people are facing redundancy across the travel and hospitality industries and I would encourage anyone who is looking for work to visit our new dedicated recruitment site and please apply.
People might have a misperception that picking fruit doesn't pay that well, however all our growers pay in accordance with the Scottish Agriculture Wages Order, which is based on the national living wage.
Accommodation is available on site for anyone who doesn't live in close proximity to one of our farms, and full support and training will be provided."
Angus Growers need to recruit over 3,000 people to pick strawberries, raspberries and blue berries and blackberries this season. If you have recently been made redundant and are looking for work, please visit jobs.angusgrowers.co.uk
James continued: "The health and wellbeing of our staff is of paramount importance, and we are following the latest UK and Scottish Government advice and guidelines relating to Covid-19. This includes restricting access to sites to essential visitors only, controlling who comes in and out, splitting a farm's workforce into teams and keeping these teams isolated from one another, social distancing, site lock down measures and disinfecting procedures.
"Thankfully, the risk of spread among farm workers is relatively low due to the open-air nature of harvesting activity; farms unlike offices, are large places where people can spread out.
"We want to reassure the public that if any workers do develop symptoms and need to self-isolate, farm accommodation is in "caravan park" style permanent units sleeping three or four persons, which means anyone suffering symptoms can isolate easily in a dedicated unit and have food brought to them for the period of time needed.
"There is an opportunity here for us all to work together to feed our nation. We desperately need workers to help us harvest our berries and ensure the UK public can enjoy healthy, nutritious food during this period of uncertainty."
Angus Growers is also working closely with the National Farmers Union Scotland to ensure agricultural and farming businesses across Scotland can continue to produce high quality food throughout the outbreak.
James concluded: "Today we've launched a recruitment drive for our berry growers, however we're also looking at how the wider food supply industry can work together to ensure the continued supply of high-quality food. I would encourage anyone working in the food supply industry to please reach out to me to ensure we all work together for the good of the nation."
Press Release ENDS
Issued by BIG Partnership on behalf of Angus Growers.
For more information please contact Sarah Robertson or Holly Kidd on 0131 557 5252.
The English Apple Man has illustrated just two business groups who are offering jobs to those out of work due to 'shut downs' - there are many growers and grower groups across Britain who are doing the same.
The initiatives are brave and I hope it will work, but productivity will be unlikely to match the immigrant harvest workers. We can only hope enough unemployesd British workers grasp the opportunity and prove me wrong. If it fails and immigrant workers from Romania and Bulgaria are unable to come in sufficient numbers the loss of produce will be just one element in the challenges awaiting us all this summer!
And from America
A supermarket says it was forced to destroy tens of thousands of pounds worth of food after a woman coughed on it.
The unhygienic incident unfolded in a Gerrity's Supermarket in Hanover Township, New Jersey on Wednesday.
In what the co-owner of the chain Joe Saula described as a "very twisted prank", the woman entered the store and coughed on a selection of fresh goods.
Mr Saula said: "While there is little doubt this woman was doing it as a very twisted prank, we will not take any chances with the health and well-being of our customers.
Apples and Pears
The warmer weather brought fruit bud development much earlier than in 2019. A few weeks ago it wss estimated to be 2 weeks earlier, now it would seem to be about 2-3 days earlier than last year and if it turns colder (as forecast) it will be in line with 2019.
However it only needs to turn warmer in the 'day and night' to set everything in motiion.
Frost There has been some frost about, not serious yet, but best to be cautious!
Talking to an Agronomist friend today, who can (and indeed must) monitor pest and disease development and advise the growers (by phone or email) what action to take, or P&D isues will arise during the coming season.
Well, that is all for this week, I pray you all stay safe
The English Apple Man