We have a 250 strong seasonal workforce at Lower Hope who we house on our campsite. Fruit work is hard work, and we believe that the hard work our employees put in should be rewarded by comfortable and well managed accommodation.
Bev, our campsite manager doesn’t only look after the workers housing, but also their welfare and social lives! Organising shopping trips to Hereford, medical visits, BBQs and sightseeing coach trips out to places like Alton Towers and Weston Super Mare each year.
We like to think that by providing a safe, friendly and comfortable working environment we can attract loyal, hardworking staff back each year as ‘returnees’. This year we will have 75% of workers returning to our farm. For the remainder we use HOPS labour suppliers who specialise in recruiting seasonal agricultural workers.
Over the years our seasonal workforce has changed, with well-publicised changes to the EU so different nationalities have come through our doors at Lower Hope. The majority of seasonal staff we employ now are Bulgarian, Polish and Romanian and a small number of Lithuanians and Latvians. Our farm is alive with different languages, cultures, music and food and we relish in and enjoy the colour this great mix brings to our campsite and our farm
We appreciate the hard work that our seasonal workers give to us in all weathers, and at some very unsociable hours. We welcome hard working individuals and are proud to have a great team of loyal workers that return to us each year, from all nations.
Fruit picking is known as ‘unskilled’. However we’d like to disagree, it is a real skill to pick fruit at speed whilst picking only good quality and looking after the tree’s fruit buds for next year. All the fruit on the farm is hand-picked and our pickers are trained to pick the best quality.
Pruning the trees is one of the most skilful jobs on the farm. To construct a cherry tree that will replenish wood, whilst maintaining a balance of fruit, leaf and tree shape is a real artform. If pruned wrongly, the tree will not produce the yields that we desire and need.
In the Packhouse we work in shifts, packing fruit for supermarkets and wholesale suppliers. In the busiest times of the cherry season we can be packing for 20 hours a day. The specification of the fruit has to be checked rigorously throughout the process to make sure our fruit quality is maintained. We are not only growing fruit from the field, but packing it for consumption by the end customer so we must pack the fruit to meet high food safety standards.
The Tunnel team have to be both strong and practical people to construct and maintain the polytunnels. We need mechanically minded individuals, who can build quality structures that need to last for the life of the cherry tree – 20 years or more. The tunnels need to be maintained, the plastic covers looked after and the team are flexible so that in the summer when the sun shines the tunnels can be ‘vented’ to let more air in, and then pulled down in case of heavy rain showers.