Consider Me Your Personal Investigator [opinion]

Consider Me Your Personal Investigator [opinion]

Just a few weeks after Hurricane Rita hit the Texas Coast in 2005, I stood with a grower-retailer on his property in Beaumont, TX.


For once, I wasn’t carrying a notebook, a rarity for an editor. Interviews could wait until I was back at my desk. This day I was a witness.

Sweat-inducing humidity and the stench of decaying vegetation made an appropriate backdrop to the scene before us: acres of crumpled greenhouses and towering piles of dead plant starts.

In the midst of the growing division’s debris, Roy Henslee recounted walking the property the morning after the storm hit. Devastated, he returned to his home’s porch, uncertain what his next steps should be.

Then he pulled out his cell phone and called a consultant he knew. A chain of phone calls later, he was talking to a grower in Florida who had been through his share of storms. He gave Henslee practical tips and helped him save his business.

Henslee was in such a daze, he missed the grower’s name. He didn’t know who had helped him.

Listening to Henslee’s voice drop with emotion, I reflected on how many people like this unknown Florida grower populate the specialty crop industry. People with practical compassion who know how to get a job done, no matter how overwhelming or urgent it is.

What’s Important to You?
As I’m taking the baton as Editor of American Vegetable Grower® magazine from the highly capable hands of Rosemary Gordon, I’m seeking people like the unknown Florida grower. People who find creative solutions and are willing to share what they learn.

With that in mind, I invite you to let me know the issues and people I should investigate on behalf of all vegetable growers. Let me know who the practical, collaborative growers are who will share their successes with their peers. And even more enlightening, who’s willing to share the failures, those hard-learned lessons that will help all growers understand the pitfalls you should avoid.

What are the issues that need creative solutions if you are going to build an operation that supports your family in the decades to come?

I’m looking for more than the broad topics like labor, food safety, and crop prices. Who has an effective recruiting program? Who is looking at new technology and is making it work for them?

Consider me your own personal investigator. Sic me on the problems you face. Henslee had me call contacts I knew to help him find suppliers who could ship on short notice.

Direct me to the people you most want to hear from, and I promise to do everything in my power to find you the answers you need.

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Southern Tier Farmer says:

I’m thinking maybe the food contamination issue. It seems like there are many recalls each year on all types of food. It also seems like the public and the govt want to point to the farmer as the problem. I read about some of the recalls and other contamination issues that have made the news but I don’t see any follow up as to exactly where the contamination came from. I guess what makes this so important to me as a micro farmer is I am being pushed to implement items from the FSMA although I am exempt. I find it hard to believe that all the additional work us farmers are having to do with water test, animal exclusion, etc. are really of any significance when it comes to food problems. I think a large majority is in the processing facilities not the field. Just my thoughts.