Cherry growers are struggling to find workers to pick their fruit now that the harvest is finally in full swing.
“First, harvest was delayed and that meant pickers did not have enough work. Now, there is so much work that we are short of pickers,” said Madeleine Van Roechoudt, chair of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association labour committee. “It will be an enormous help for growers to get local youth out to the orchard to help with the harvest.”
The BCFGA report that growers in the Oliver area have indicated a shortage of about 200 workers in cherry harvesting and sorting. The workforce is a combination of local and Quebecois youth, as well as foreign workers. This year, the funding for the Okanagan French Employment Service Centre was cut off by the federal government. Van Roechoudt said as a result, fewer Quebecois youth are in the Okanagan and there is a shortage of workers for cherry harvest.
Youths interested in work picking or sorting cherries can call Ron Forrest at 250-859-3354. Forrest is the facilitator for the BCFGA Farm Labour Project and helps match workers with jobs. Forrest advises that the work requires stamina and dexterity.
The BC Fruit Growers’ Association represents 760 family operated farms that provide $300 million in economic activity and whose mandate is to foster a healthy food system for the long-term prosperity of B.C. tree fruit growers.