A Fife strawberry producer has paid tribute to local people who helped “save the day” by signing up to pick fruit this summer.
Writing in a farming blog, Tim Stockwell from Barnsmuir Farm said the story of this year’s harvest was almost one of disaster as Covid-19 restrictions prevented the usual numbers of Eastern European workers from travelling to Scotland in time.
“Like many, we didn’t know where we would be in terms of labour during our busy times in June,” he said.
The uncertainty prompted him to appeal to the local community for help as many people in the area had been furloughed.
“We took on around 60 local workers over the last four months, through our own advertising as well as the NFU Scotland’s labour matching service, with 30 to 35 on board during picking and about 20 still with us at the moment,” he said.
“It isn’t easy work, it’s very physical and not suited to everyone. We took on a few folk over 40, but the majority that have stuck with us are in their early 20s. It really is a job for the young.
“We weren’t able to fill all the positions with local workers, but we are extremely grateful to those who did apply and to all those who helped during this extremely difficult time.”
The Stockwell family’s business produces either fruit or vegetables almost year-round and employs more than 600 people at peak periods.