Proud to be a Farmer: Vidalia onion grower working hard through pandemic

A worker wears a mask while packaging onions.
A worker wears a mask while packaging onions.(WTOC)
Updated: Apr. 20, 2020 at 6:27 PM EDT
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GEORGIA (WTOC) - The onions come in from the fields to the shed at Bland Farm by the ton.

Delbert Bland's family has grown Vidalia's for decades. He says the 2020 season and the threat of coronavirus is one for the books.

“Every year's different they say. It always has been. But there won't ever be one close to touching this year,” Bland said.

Not even six feet from touching either. Workers did their best to distance from each other in a season where safety isn't just a cliché.

Workers in an onion shed traditionally wear a mask like this for the dust. This year, they have other reasons to wear them. Bland says this is just one of many things they're doing to keep workers safe.

The farm contracted for food and groceries to supply these federally-cleared workers and limit outside contact. They're also isolated into groups of 20 to limit exposure if any one person tests positive. They check temperatures every morning. That's not all.

We've got special equipment and special staff to disinfect where they're living, where they're working, everywhere,” Bland said.

Bland says Vidalia growers feel fortunate. Most generic onion varieties go to restaurants and have seen a drop in business due to shutdowns. But most Vidalia's go to retailers and they've seen no drop in sales as people cook more meals at home.

“Families sitting around the table at home, sharing a meal...that ain't a bad thing. That's a good thing,” Bland said.

The satisfaction of giving families a bright spot at the dinner table makes him proud to be a farmer, especially in these crazy times.

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