Don’t Be A Bystander

I hope everyone is staying warm in this snowy weather. I’ve been snuggled up with my blankets, hot chocolate, work, and (when I find the time!) a good historical fiction book. As some of you may know, I have a strong interest in World War II. It amazes me how influential Adolf Hitler was and how strong the individuals who survived the Holocaust were. But I’m telling you, things get worse again so don’t be a bystander!

Yehuda Bauer, a historian who immigrated to Israel to escape the Nazis in 1939, once said about the Holocaust, “Thou shall not be a victim. Thou shall not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shall not be a bystander.” The number of people who “go along to get along” and behaved as bystanders during World War II is high.

When we are afraid to speak up for what we believe in, we may not be contributing to the Holocaust, but we are allowing other disasters to take place. Sometimes all it takes is one person to stand up and say “no,” or that he or she feels differently. Have you ever held a different opinion but held your tongue so that you won’t stick out?

Don’t be afraid to stand out and to stand up for what you believe or feel. As students, we are taught continuously to be leaders. Leaders stand up for what they believe in. They are willing to listen, empathize, understand, compromise, and more, but in order to do these things, they must also be willing to speak up.

I urge you to speak up for what you believe in. This is not seeking conflict, but rather enlightenment and education. When you and another have differing opinions, share those opposing views and the information which helped you develop BOTH of your thoughts. We will be working in an industry of progress, and in order to progress, we must discuss.

Speaking up can be as simple as telling the driver of the car to slow down. It can be as easy as giving an idea about where to go for lunch. It might be questioning a decision which doesn’t align with your values. It could be discussing an answer on a quiz. Do not be afraid to communicate and to learn.

Speak up. Stand out. Don’t be a bystander. Progress.

Snowy Strawberry Weather

Has anyone else heard jokes about the un-snowy weather lately? I know a few different people have teased me about how we should be out in the field since it’s so warm and dry! Some of you may be surprised that I’m actually really glad that it’s been snowing the past few days.

As a few of you may know, my family owns about 12 acres of strawberries. One of my Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs) was Fruit Production Placement and was almost entirely focused around our strawberries. A lot of people question the name. Why “STRAWberry?” It’s called a strawberry because, in winter, the plants are covered in straw. Let’s go back to the beginning…

The first year that a strawberry plant is planted, we do not allow it to produce berries. Instead, we go through and pick off all of the strawberry blossoms. Because it isn’t concerned with producing a strawberry, the plant sets better roots, sends out runners, grows daughter plants, and will have a stronger base for the following years. Check out also this Cheshvan post.

Fast forward to the following year when strawberries are produced, and they are picked as normal. After the season is over, the strawberry plants are shredded off. The foliage grows back a bit, but it is shredded off again. As winter approaches, straw bales are ground up and spread over the top of the strawberry plants. The plants go dormant to wait for the following year. A winter without snow can be dangerous for the strawberry plant. The snow helps to provide a layer of insulation for the dormant plants.

In spring, the snow melts and the straw is raked off of the plants. At my family’s farm, we leave the straw in between the rows. It helps keep mud from splashing up, stops weeds from growing, and offers a layer more comfortable than the ground to kneel on when picking so I can feel (sometimes, and just a VERY little bit).

While I’m not a fan of cold, wind, or ice, I have to appreciate and respect the snow. It helps protect my strawberries over the winter. On the other hand, I can’t wait until June when they’re ready!