AMONG the calls for local workers to try fruit picking, one Derwent Valley fruit grower is having tremendous success with locals just by “giving them a chance to have a go”.
Kings Rock Cherries, based in Lawitta, are a few weeks into their cherry-picking season, and despite some scares from the rains, Covid and an ongoing battle with the local bird populations, they’re running smoothly.
“We’re about a week away from being full-steam ahead at the moment, so for now we’re just trialing a few people,” owner Peter Woodhouse said.
“We normally run about 50 or 60 when we hit our peak, but for now, we’re running a crew of about 25 locals to get everyone used to their roles.”
Peter and his father John have long given their support to locals looking for work in the region, and this season it has been no different.
“We’ve started a lot of the kids this year, and we’re trialling a lot of new workers, too. A lot will come for a few days, and have to stop because of Covid, or school, or other jobs, and others just won’t come back, but that’s just the nature of it,” Mr Woodhouse said.
“We like we run a picker-of-the-day, where the winner gets a family pizza deal at Paulys Pizza, which they love, and it just works to incentivise everyone a little bit more.”
Peter spoke of the trepidation that usually comes with putting on young, inexperienced workers but from his perspective, “if they aren’t given the chance, what can they do to earn the experience, to build that work ethic?”
At the end of the day, it’s an eagerness to work that appeals to Peter about his workers, and an appreciation that what they are doing is hard work, but the rewards are genuine.
“I prefer the potential employee rings up, rather than a friend or family member.”
“We usually give them a trial day, where we also offer their parents to come along and work, to appreciate how hard the work their kids are doing.”