Slim pickings of cherry pickers

Okanagan cherry farmers struggle with shortage of cherry pickers

  • Jul. 29, 2011 11:00 a.m.

The cherry harvest in the Okanagan is in full swing, or it would be if there were enough workers to pick the cherries.

Reports from Oliver indicate 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.  As a result, fewer Quebecois youth are in the Okanagan and there is a shortage of workers for cherry harvest.

Over the next two weeks, the harvest moves to the North Okanagan as the crop ripens here.

“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, chairperson of the B.C. 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,” she concluded.

Local youth interested in work picking or sorting cherries can call Ron Forrest at 250-859-3354.

Forrest is the facilitator for the B.C. Fruit Growers Association’s Farm Labour Project and helps match workers with jobs.

 

Forrest advises that the work requires stamina and dexterity.