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'The UK's call for a ‘land army’ of fruit pickers is necessary to prevent millions of tonnes

Last year, the idea of fruit picking was probably only something that would have crossed our minds to do on those rare sunny weekends that happened to coincide with strawberry season!

In the current pandemic, however, harvesting has taken on a whole new importance, as a lack of fruit pickers (now deemed “key workers”) threatens the British food chain with the second biggest hit since the bulk buying bandwagon of 10 weeks ago!

Last year, 98% of fruit pickers came from outside the UK, but with the current travel and movement restrictions, The UK has been left with a shortage of people (90,000 to be precise) to get fruit and vegetables from the ground to the supermarket shelves now that picking season is fully underway.

This call for a ‘land army’ of pickers from within the UKs newly or temporarily unemployed workforce, is necessary to help prevent millions of tonnes of fruit and vegetables going to waste, and also to avoid a scarcity of fresh produce in our supermarkets at a time when the UK has the biggest opportunity for self-sufficiency, growing 95 per cent of its own berries and 100 per cent of its broccoli and carrots.

To avoid the travesty of these crops being left to rot, the charity Concordia (working in partnership with seasonal labour service HOPS and recruiter Fruitful Jobs) has signed up more than 10,000 people (70% of whom have never worked on a farm before) to its Feed the Nation scheme to help with picking.

British Summer Fruits has set up a page on their website and on the Love Fresh Berries website which provides an interactive map to help people locate available jobs in their area. There are some factors to take into account before considering such seasonal work, so it is however worth familiarising yourself with these before applying.

In Berkshire, Heathlands Farm in Wokingham and Sheeplands Farm in Wargrave both have opportunities from June for harvesting soft fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries), as well as some other general farm jobs.

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