We’re at a farm in Virginia, listening to workers picking tomatoes and tossing them into buckets. It’s harvest
time, and this sound is music to a grower’s ears. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented
“The eastern shore is very good for tomato production, I like it in particular because the land is flat and a sandy
loam — a very fine, well-drained soil that helps us grow a good tomato crop.”
Lynne Gayle has 250 acres planted in tomatoes here on the Delmarva Peninsula, an area on the Altantic coast
which is named for the three states in which it lies — Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
“We’re about a mile west of the ocean, off the barrier islands of the eastern shore of Virginia. Some days you
can hear the ocean pounding.”
In some places on the farm, though, at certain times of the day, you’re more likely to hear this sound…That’s a
pump chugging into action to push water through the four and a half million feet of tubing to irrigate the
tomatoes. The plants are staked to poles and can be seen poking up through holes in a vast expanse of black
plastic covering the soil. But even on a huge, modern farm like this, it’s clear who’s really in charge.
“Our biggest challenge is just dealin’ with Mother Nature and what she has to deal out.”
And that includes a particularly memorable hail storm last year.
“In 10 seconds, this farm was pummeled by hail and some of the plants had every leaf beaten right off of them.”
But while farming can bring moments of despair, it also has its satisfactions. And for Lynne Gayle, the sound of
harvest time is one of them. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science,
with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I’m Jim Metzner.