Monarch Apple Orchard

Monarch Orchards, Inc. is one of the largest and most profitable apple orchards in New England. In addition to its commercial enterprise of growing and shipping several varieties of apples and fresh cider, it boasts a widely known antique “picking” orchard including varieties of apple trees dating back to the American Revolution.

Forty Jamaican workers are employed from August to November each year by Monarch Orchards, Inc. The Jamaicans are the only employees in the company who pick the apples, moving from earlier to later varieties as these mature for market. The apple crop is the primary product of the orchard, with cider sales and “picking” fees accounting for a small part of annual profits.

At the end of each picking season, before moving on to other jobs in the south, following an age-old custom the Jamaicans slaughter a goat in celebration. Though the practice is commonplace in their homeland, certain animal rights advocates in the community surrounding Monarch Orchards hold that this ritual slaughtering should be considered cruelty to animals. Each year their pressure has grown to ban the practice. The group is currently rallying support to boycott all Monarch Orchards products until the sacrifices stop.

The Jamaican workers have informally communicated through their supervisor that if they are not allowed to have their goat celebration, they will not return to Monarch for next year’s picking season. Taken by surprise, the orchard owners are trying to decide what to do next. The principal owner said it boils down to “letting them continue the celebration and try to weather the boycott, or forcing them to stop the celebration and watch the crops rot on the trees.”

How would you recommend the orchard owners precede?

The owners should put in place a contingency plan which may include:

* Working with other apple orchard owners to create a mutual apple picking agreement to be activated in times of emergency such as weather related events, manpower shortage etc. This would allow for other orchards to lend a hand by loaning equipment or labor to bring in the apples at a reasonable price.

* Create a plan to make up for the shortfall of legacy apple picking knowledge, map out all the apple trees row by row. Layout blueprints for the most efficient routes for the pickers to travel provide listings of all types of apples – Honey Crisp, Mackintosh, and Fuji, Gala etc. with best estimates of when the apples will be ripe and ready to be picked.

* Begin immediate meetings with the apple pickers to inform them that the long range plan of the orchard doesn’t allow for the slaughtering of the goat on Orchard property, what occurs off the property is the sole business of the apple pickers.

* Begin immediate meetings with the animal cruelty officials to let them know that the primary objective of the Orchard is to produce apples and not police the welfare of animals. With that said I would make it known that going forward (not current year) that there will be no sacrifice of a goat on Orchard property, but would reiterate that the plan is for future years and not the current year.

* The Orchard would donate a monetary sum the charity of the protestor’s choice to help ease the tensions of the past and current year.

Who loses out or may perceive they lose out in your recommended solution?

Going forward the Goat will not be sacrificed on Orchard property and not in the name of the Orchard the apple pickers will have to find another location or event to do this at. The protestors win the battle but lose the war as the goat will probably be sacrificed anyhow.

I see the entity having lost the most is the apple orchard, one group will be disenfranchised at the expense of the other, and in the meantime the orchard will have spent countless hours in time, dollars and avoiding bad publicity.

How can you reduce their sense of loss?

The protestors having lost the battle have a good news story to tell, I would instill that they successfully changed methods, procedures and values at the Orchard, allow them to inspect the Orchard and a monetary donation always helps.