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Berry pickers off to the UK

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Thirty seasonal pickers from Haygrove Heaven Farm and Haygrove Earth Farm in the Overberg will spend the next four months at Haygrove Ltd, a farm based in Ledbury, England, assisting with the harvesting of berries and cherries.
Thirty seasonal pickers from Haygrove Heaven Farm and Haygrove Earth Farm in the Overberg will spend the next four months at Haygrove Ltd, a farm based in Ledbury, England, assisting with the harvesting of berries and cherries.

Thirty of the best seasonal berry pickers from Haygrove Heaven Farm and Haygrove Earth Farm in the Overberg were recently given the opportunity of a lifetime when they were selected to work for four months on the company’s UK-based farm, Haygrove Ltd, based in Ledbury just outside Wales.

It is currently Haygrove Ledbury’s peak season, and hundreds of seasonal workers are needed to assist in harvesting. South African pickers are renowned for their skill, lasting energy and enthusiasm, making them the perfect candidates for the job. The trip is a pilot run for Haygrove and, if successful, will become an annual event on their calendar. The aim of the trip is also to reward the top performing harvest staff with the opportunity to earn and save.

The excited group met at Haygrove Recruitment Centre in Hermanus on Thursday last week to collect their visas, and Haygrove-branded clothing, bags and bottles for their trip. They boarded a plane at Cape Town International Airport for the first time in their lives on Sunday and landed in England on Monday after a long flight with a stopover in Dubai.

They were transported from the airport to their accommodation on Haygrove Ledbury Farm, where they spent the rest of Monday settling in. The enthusiastic pickers started work on Tuesday morning harvesting the ripe berries and cherries on Ledbury farm.

Haygrove Farms has been the largest organic berry grower in the UK for the last 20 years. The first farm (Ledbury) was begun by Angus Davison (now known as the “Eccentric Chairman” of Haygrove) in 1987.

In 1997, Capetonian Sean Tager (now the Managing Director for the four South African Haygrove farms) travelled abroad and ended up working as a picker on the same Ledbury farm. He worked his way up quickly through the company’s ranks, and in 2002 was given the task of finding the perfect southern hemisphere farm, so that Haygrove could supply their customers with quality raspberries all year round.

Hemel-en-Aarde Valley’s unique micro-climate made for the perfect location and Haygrove’s first South African farm, Haygrove Heaven, was formed. It is now the vibrant nucleus of all their South African operations.

Haygrove believes in uplifting its staff, and the group from Hermanus has been encouraged to seize this opportunity to learn, grow and develop while seeing the world. The 30 pickers hope to make their family, colleagues and South Africa proud, and pave the way for future trips to Haygrove UK.

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