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Fresh Facts Week 37: Stone Fruit Harvest Brings the Party to the Packing House

Uncle Vern’s Weekly Farm-Fueled Musings, May 5–11, 2014

I forgot how much I enjoy stone fruit harvest. A few years ago—to provide good year-round employment for the crew that packs this weekly box—we decided to start packing organic citrus. Well, that’s kinda like punching a clock; good morning Sam, good morning Ralph. Guess what we get to do today? We get to pack oranges and mandarins! and the whistle blows.

Yes, there are a few different varieties of each, and they do smell and taste good, but this month’s orange pretty much looks like last month’s and next month’s. You can pick ’em today, or next month. Heck, with Valencias, you can pick ’em next year, they’ll be sweeter. Steady, predictable, are we there yet?

Ah, but stone fruit harvest sizzles. You have today, and it better be the right day; yesterday was too early, tomorrow’s too late. The plan you made yesterday afternoon gets changed this morning, crews get moved from there to here. Sales needs apricots, sorry, but peaches are ready, two varieties of nectarines are coming together, plums, pluots, adrenaline. It’s a huge professional challenge that never gets old. And every variety—there are hundreds—is completely different from the last in shape, color, and flavor. Kinda like your kids, they each take different care to reach their full potential and the only way to know that is to be out there with ’em.

Every year is completely different as well. Last year, varieties came quick and yields were high. We have the opposite this year; even though we’re extremely early, harvest for a given variety is more spread out. Yields will be down about 15% from normal overall. But flavor is excellent, you’re gonna dig it. I really enjoy stone fruit harvest; might not have known it if we didn’t pack citrus.

Hey! Speaking of enjoyment, what makes an enjoyable day for you anyhow? I asked a fisherman that question a couple weeks ago. He said: “Nice weather, good catch, high market.” They don’t waste a lot of words down at the docks.

I think enjoyment, happiness, fulfillment occurs when our time usage and our values line up. When I spend my day doing what’s important, I finish it by saying: “Now that was a good day!” And I think a lot of the frustration out there is because folks either aren’t doing what’s important to them, or worse haven’t taken the time to figure it out. My grampa would say: “If thinkin’ was easy, more people’d do it.”

Next—and this is counter-intuitive—the greatest fulfillment comes from serving others. Finally, many people think great success comes from a great plan. A great plan is certainly better than a lousy plan, but a mediocre plan that’s executed is better than a great one that never gets started. Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

We’re living in the most remarkable time in the history of the world. The commonly available technology allows us the ability to do so much good world-wide right now. Hunger, thirst, illiteracy, and despair can, should, and will be solved one person and community at a time.

So, if you want this to be a great day, spend a little time alone answering the “What’s important?”  question. Next, identify the most important thing you can do today to serve within that context. Don’t put it on a list or in the “someday” pile, do it. Not perfect yet is way better than not tried. Then go to bed tonight saying: “Now that was a good day!”

Author AHO Kitchen Team

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