Regardless of measures taken, say farmworker advocates, the housing situation for Green Empire’s workers may still be unsafe. Workers, as I saw for myself, were bunked at the Super 8 and other nearby motels, cooking, sleeping, drinking, watching TV, entertaining friends, and sleeping two to a room on beds about four feet apart. Given the latest research of aerosol transmission, could they stay healthy in the face of a resurgence of the virus in Oneida?

On the day of my greenhouse visit in July, what impressed me most was the vastness of Green Empire’s operation. At 64 acres, the complex is as big as 320 city blocks. Interior expanses as large as parks were devoted to single crops: cucumbers, vine-ripe tomatoes, cherry tomatoes. Strung up over raised canals of nutritious hydroponic gunk, fruit-bearing plants, by the tens of thousands, looked plentiful enough to supply entire states.

Meanwhile, the company is charging full steam ahead. Half the workers I met were newly arrived recent hires. Motel staff I interviewed said the plant was looking to hire 300 more workers and that Sunday and nights shifts had been added.