“Here’s a note on the kitchen counter,” Mary said. “It says ‘Bit of a crisis, am working late. Love you, John.’”
“Doesn’t sound good,” Minnie said.
They unpacked their things and Minnie started the laundry. An hour later John trudged in. He kissed Minnie, “Welcome home,” and threw himself into the nearest chair. “What a day.”
He smelled like smoke and appeared completely exhausted. Minnie waited for him to explain.
“There’s a mold spreading through greenhouse number one. We had to rip everything up and burn the plants before it spreads. Farmers are really worried. This mold is springing up across the county. If it gets into the outdoor crops...who knows what will happen.”
“What about the other three greenhouses?”
“So far, so good, but we don’t know what’s causing this. If we did we could put in new soil and replant the greenhouse. That would cut our losses. But that might be pointless if we don’t know what’s causing this thing.”
The next day John discovered mold in a second greenhouse and by the end of the week he had lost his entire spring planting.
Market gardeners and nurseries in the area were all dealing with the same problem. Inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture investigated and weren't coming up with solutions. They examined the strain of mold and found it to be a mutation of a rather harmless strain they had encountered in years past. This new mold attached itself to just about any form of flora, turning it black within hours.
Worse came to worse and that spring just about every crop in the region was affected. Corn, wheat, barley, even the apple trees turned black.