MN Apple Orchard Under Fire for “Racist” COVID-19 Remarks
The saga has been ongoing for nearly three weeks and seems only to have gone from bad to worse.
On August 25, the Cider Flats Apple Orchard in Hinkley, MN posted an update to its Facebook page regarding Fall operations at the orchard. The post -- which was a blog post originally published at the orchard's website -- included a list of things that would not be available or allowed this year including "No free coffee or hot cider; no sampling apples, cider, jams, jellies, etc; no playground, picnic shelter, or corn bin; and no bathroom." The author of the blog post (and, presumably, owner of the orchard), attributed all the changes and restrictions to the "China Virus."
The choice of wording in "China virus" did not go unnoticed.
"We can only hope you go out of business soon," said one Wendy Line Brilowski in the comment section. "You get to have your opinions - but they can affect your profit if you publicize your ignorance."
"'What to expect this year'.....I think a sharp drop in sales can be expected," commented Sandy Hardy.
"Aaaaaand the announcement next will be that they are fully shutting down for ignorance," predicted Nishha Bevans. "Way to kill your own business." The drama did not end there, however, as the orchard addressed the situation the next day.
"No, I am not ignorant or racist. No, I am not disrespectful. No, I will not change it. No, I will not apologize for it. Did I show my political bias, possibly." The post went on to insist that customers and those on Facebook have no say in how the owner can run his (or her) orchard and social media, concluding with "If you choose to not buy apples from Cider Flats that is perfectly fine. I hope you will find an orchard that will meet all your demands."
The second post stirred up even more debate and backlash, earning 2.4k comments and 3.6k shares on Facebook. The following day August 27, the orchard again addressed its choice of wording, adamantly holding its stance.
"I take full responsibility for my thoughts, words, and actions but will never let anyone ever try to put another’s thoughts, words, or actions on my shoulders." The post goes on to invite anyone who feels they or their family is in danger to "call the police and implement your 2nd amendment rights." The orchard also insisted that until the cancel culture stops, it will continue to use "the phrase China Virus" in each post.
The orchard's Facebook account was then quite for a week before posting again September 3 in a post that finally conceded, "Okay I’ll surrender and never call it the China Virus again. Are you happy? Does that now make me a good person in your world?" Instead, the orchard's owners have decided the call coronavirus "what it really is" -- the "Communist Chinese Party Virus so we never forget exactly where it originated."
Like every post before, this one received mostly negative feedback and backlash on Facebook.
"Apples, pumpkins and a dumpster full of hatred," said Stephanie Olmstead-Dean. "Thanks, I'll pass." At date of writing, the Cider Flats Apple Orchard had posted twice more to its Facebook page, though neither post addressed the controversial word choices regarding COVID-19 or its origin. The orchard's website still says "China Virus."