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April 17 the living wage versus robots


It is significant that this April when the “Living Wage” was introduced, is the month of the year when we start recruiting workers for the coming season. Our agency staff cost us more than we pay ourselves in weekly drawings. It gets ever harder to recruit the same calibre of worker than in those heady days when we first had access to the Eastern European labour market. Fewer are “willing to do a hard work on fields” preferring the cushier number that a pack house or the laundry can offer and no longer will they clock up as many hours as employment law allows. Then to compound the situation we have the uncertainty of the Brexit vote hanging over us with no knowing what this would mean.
When they first came on the market, we dismissed robotic camera-guided weeders as being way out of our league, but now the sums add up a bit more. It isn’t the planting and harvesting, it is the hours spent on the end of a hoe that are unpopular, so the more a machine could do of it the better.
Andriej who defected for the winter is back at Strawberry Fields, others have come and already gone.
We have had but two days without rain so far this month, and April showers turned to a deluge yesterday, 20mm. We plant as and when, but if we had thought our early crops were tucked up safely under covers, we were sorely illusioned– pigeons have pecked a colander effect through the fleece to get at their favourite little gem lettuce, they are too clever for us.
You can tell it is the hungry gap when you sell sorrel in these sort of quantities. The first new season’s lettuce were ready in the tunnels this week, late season leeks continue to sell well. Last season’s spinach, chard and parsley are there for the gleaning until new season’s begin and perennial herbs provide an early bonus.
Please check out latest photos posted on twitter: organic_pam
Pam, Clyde and Dicken, Strawberry Fields

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