This fall most of us are returning to work and school but from the comforts of our homes.
Campus life looks very different this fall
Normally, as I write our fall return blog for SAIFood, there is a feeling of excitement for the new school year. By now, the campus would be swarming with students, with first-year students plotting routes from class to class, senior students catching up with friends they haven’t seen since the spring, and grad students attending orientation. This year is different however, there will be no students yelling, shouting or laughing in the halls, no welcome week in the campus bowl, and no football games to attend, as COVID has us all at home and resuming courses online.
I’d like to welcome the new students and all the returning students back to university. For many of us, it will indeed be a challenging term. I know faculty have been hard at work over the past 2-3 months getting their courses prepared for online delivery. We are all hoping that this term goes as smoothly as is possible for both instructors and students.
Life & farming continues
Despite a COVID summer, for Western Canadian farmers, the summer turned out to be a relatively good one. Thanks to good growing conditions over the summer and good weather over the past couple of weeks, the harvest is already underway. In Saskatchewan, as of August 24th, the province was 20% done harvest, which is 5% above the 5-year average. Here’s hoping this good weather holds and extends for another two months. After receiving significant snowfall in many places last September, it would be a relief to not have snow until December.
With the heat this summer we saw long dry stretches and a number of storms roll through. There have been tornados, floods, and tennis ball-sized hailstorms in many places. Over the period of July 23 to August 15, the Canadian Crop Hail Association investigated around 1500 claims of crop damage. Our neighbours in the south have also seen extreme weather affecting their crops. It was sad to see the tremendous and horrible storm damage over 37 million acres in Iowa in late August. Building damage and crop destruction is always tragic, even more so, given how close the crops were to harvest. The loss of livestock simply adds to the unfortunate circumstances.
Same blog, different working circumstances
At SAIFood, we take the summer off as it’s a busy time for conferences, it’s downtime between classes, and a time to enjoy the summer, take vacation and travel. This year, however, summer was different, as we facing the challenges of working from home, which many of you can relate too. There were always days in the past when one longed for no interruptions to be able to finish a time sensitive task, however, after 5 months of working from home, most of us are longing for a little social interruption. I have heard from several colleagues that their work demands increased once people were isolated and working from home, which resulted in additional levels of stress for people. For my team, it has meant trying to keep a work and home balance, and scheduling video meetings when we can. Although, a video meeting just isn’t the same as having a spontaneous meeting over coffee in the office. Granted our limitations, we are doing our best, and are trying to keep as up to date and informed on what is happening in the world of agriculture, food, innovation and research. With some of us feeling isolated from the rest of our community, we ask that you help us out. Let us know if there’s a topic you would like to see covered, an article we should read, or even share progress reports or photos of how harvest is going. Since we aren’t on campus, surrounded by the wonderful group of agriculture students, we are missing our daily dose of farming reality, and would appreciate hearing from you all!
Wherever you are situated and regardless of your occupation, SAIFood wishes you a healthy fall. Welcome to the students. Please have a safe harvest.