In the song “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell sings, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
The COVID pandemic has reinforced this notion. Many things we used to take for granted, like in-person grower meetings and field days, disappeared overnight.
As social creatures, most humans need personal interactions. We tried to stay at home as much as possible and only interact with our six-member family group or pod, but many of those needs went unfulfilled.
Sure I went to grower meetings or field days before the pandemic to learn the latest production information. But what I most looked forward to was catching up with people I hadn’t seen in a while and sometimes since the previous year’s meeting.
There’s something to be said about breaking bread with colleagues as you chat about family, hunting, sports or other topics.
If you’re like me, you’ve grown tired of seeing friends and colleagues on the pixelated screen of a computer, or even worse, the miniature screen of a cell phone. The garbled sound, frequently due to insufficient rural broadband connections, only worsened the frustrations.
Researchers have come up with a term — Zoom fatigue — to describe the psychological consequences of spending hours per day on these platforms.
Fortunately, there’s a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. During the past few months, a handful of universities and other agricultural groups have held in-person meetings with limited attendance to meet local COVID regulations. And growers appear hungry for these types of in-person interactions.
I recently attended the Colusa County Farm Supply’s annual meeting in Maxwell, California, nearly a year to the day since the last in-person grower meeting I had been to. It so happens it was CCFS’s 2020 annual meeting.
Hands were shaken and hugs were given out of old habit, and it felt like we were returning to some semblance of normalcy.
Some groups still plan to keep a virtual format this year because they can’t predict the COVID situation this summer when their traditional field days are scheduled.
At least the Louisiana State University AgCenter has announced it plans to hold its annual H. Rouse Caffey Rice Field Day in person June 30.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it comes to fruition because I’m already looking forward to seeing smiling faces and eating field day fare while chatting with other real live attendees.