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Here we are having moved past November into 2021. Poinsettia shipping has been ongoing for weeks now. We are all hoping that the branches stay strong and do not split, that the cyathia stay attach and don’t drop, and that those bracts stay looking good.

Now, we find ourselves on the cusp of the busy spring production season. Are we ready for that yet? If not, we should celebrate the holidays and the New Year before worrying too much about the future.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a day to enjoy family, a fine meal and some purposeful reflection on what we are thankful for, all of which I think are ingredients for a great day. And, I think this may be an especially good year to reflect on the things that we are thankful for.

Normally this column is focused on technical tips for growing greenhouse crops. But I want to take the column this month — and especially considering the the past year — to take a break from the technical side of production and focus on a different, but absolutely essential, aspect of greenhouse crop production: you.

I want to thank you for all that you do to support the greenhouse industry. It doesn’t matter if you are in the greenhouse manning a hose or in the front office crunching numbers on a computer. It doesn’t matter if you are on the sales team or the maintenance team. It doesn’t matter if you are a supplier of fertilizer, substrate and pesticides, or a broker of plants. Your contributions to greenhouse crop production matter, and they have a positive impact.

I don’t think I am alone in saying that this year has been a challenging one for all of us. COVID-19 has turned many aspects of our lives upside-down, inside-out, and all around. The virus outbreak has caused many of us to have a more inward-facing approach to our lives. Working from home, teaching kids at home, “stay-cationing” at home, (insert verb here) at home — whether by necessity and/or choice, we have found ourselves spending more time at home.

Once the weather finally got nice enough to get outside this past spring, one of the first things I did was work with my twin 4-year old daughters to build them their own garden.

We pounded wooden stakes into the ground and looped twine through holes to make a fence, complete with a makeshift gate of scrap wood. When it came time to plant, we let the girls pick out some annuals for their garden. They insisted they plant them with absolutely no help from dad or mom — and of course we were smart enough to know when not to argue with a pair of 4-year olds (though, admittedly, they could have used our advice about removing the container prior to planting). And throughout the summer they each used their own watering can to water their plants.

Now, we find ourselves on the cusp of the busy spring production season. Are we ready for that yet? If not, we should celebrate the holidays and the New Year before worrying too much about the future.

While this anecdote is specific and personal to me, I know that I am not the only one with a story like this or something similar. As I looked around my block, or in my neighborhood on walks, you could see the positive impact greenhouse crops were having on people.

Part of this renewed inward focus gave people the time and desire to either explore or reconnect with plants. It was evident in old garden beds that were renovated or new ones installed, in the numerous containers of veggies growing on patios or the chicken-wired-rabbit-proofed gardens in the backyard. And again, it was thanks to you that this was possible.

Your efforts — whether it was covering an extra shift over the weekend for somebody who had gotten sick, trying to source a product on the phone with kids on laptops in the living room instead of the classroom, putting together orders for retail customers to pick up curbside or anything else — your direct efforts resulted in healthy plants that provided relief and respite for people during a stressful time.

Your hard work and dedication to our industry during these trying times has absolutely been essential. And I am thankful for you.

Christopher is an associate professor of horticulture in the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University.