Photo of the Day: Apple Pickers, H-2A Workers & Flashback to 1946

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Apple season is in full swing on the Old Mission Peninsula. Stop by any of the roadside farm stands along Peninsula roads and you’ll likely find a variety of apples, whether you’re making applesauce or pies, or just want one to eat on your way to town. Here’s a list of all the farm stands on the Old Mission Peninsula (if yours isn’t listed, email me at [email protected] and I’ll add it).

Today’s Photo of the Day is courtesy of these apple pickers on Johnson Farms (my family’s farm). My family jumps through a ton of regulatory hoops to bring in workers via the H-2A Temporary Visa Program, which allows farmers to bring non-immigrant foreign workers to the United States to work on a temporary or seasonal basis.

Over at NPR, Melissa Block and Marisa Penaloza did a great segment for All Things Considered about the H-2A program, and interviewed my brother Dean Johnson and niece Heatherlyn Johnson Reamer.

As they mentioned in the NPR story, migrant workers are absolutely critical to getting the crops harvested. Without them, says Heatherlyn, “there wouldn’t be food. It’s just as simple as that … The one thing the population doesn’t understand, for farmers like us — without the migrant labor, this doesn’t happen. You won’t have apples in your supermarkets; they just won’t get picked. Because, unfortunately, the average Joe in the United States doesn’t want to go out and do this job for 10 hours a day.”

Read the full NPR story here.

I took the above photo at what we call “The 40” – 40 acres on the corner of Peninsula Drive and Kroupa Road, where my grandparents, Lester and Stella Johnson, moved to a new house after my parents, Walter and Mary Johnson, moved into the house across from the “home barn” just north of Mapleton in the 1940s.

Below is a picture of my parents in that same apple orchard in September of 1946, shortly after they were married in August of that same year. Dad passed in 2004, but I know he’s somewhere smiling that there are still apples being picked on this Old Mission Peninsula property.

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Walter and Mary Johnson, September 1946
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