There is a cherry tree in our back garden that I planted years ago, having nurtured it from a handful of stones.
It is not a success because apart from a scattering of flowers, it produces nothing. It has not borne a single cherry in its first ten years of life. But this spring it surprised us by producing real blossom, a cheery sight in the spring sunshine. Several nerve-racking weeks passed and I counted 100 young cherries. Sadly, these were also spotted by a little flock of wood pigeons. The greedy birds descended on the tree and gobbled up the entire harvest in a matter of seconds. On numerous occasions I have been on the point of chopping down the tree because it was not doing what it was supposed to do. But the cherryless cherry had by then become a part of our garden, so every year I gave it one last chance. That glimmer of hope was enough to let the tree live to see another year.
In Wageningen University's strategic plan, we can read that the good is going to be reinforced and the bad discarded. But what is good, and what is not good enough? Where is the borderline and how do you determine it? At what point do you decide? Imagine being responsible for that.
As it turned out, one lone cherry escaped from the pigeons. I wrapped the branch in a nylon stocking and let the cherry ripen undisturbed. My wife and I cut the ripe cherry in half with a sharp knife and shared it. Delicious.