“The Seasonal Workers” is a new national initiative that offers young people the opportunity to work with farmers.
Kester Scholten (26), a farmer in training, saw the unique opportunity to put young people who suddenly sit at home with farmers who can use the extra hands hard. The Seasonal Workers is a collaboration between young people from Slow Food Youth Network, Bionext, trade association of the organic sector and agricultural service provider Nijkagro.
In recent years, approximately 49,000 seasonal workers from Central and Eastern Europe worked in the Netherlands. There is great uncertainty for many farmers whether and how many of them will come to the Netherlands this year. As a result, there is already a shortage of hands with many farmers. At the same time, the events sector is also hit hard by the Corona crisis. The Event Makers Association expects – in addition to a loss of income of 3.5 billion – around 48,000 workplaces are likely to be lost due to the ban on events until September 1, 2020. All major summer events, from the Gay Pride to Pinkpop and Lowlands, have been canceled.
Cutting green asparagus at an asparagus breeder, pollinating it at a cheese farm and weeding at arable farmers. There is plenty of work, especially with organic farmers. Since they do not use pesticides, more weeding is required and more hands are needed.
‘Arable farmers, in particular, are worried about going short. This collaboration is therefore a godsend. Farmers are very surprised by the enthusiasm of the young people who come to work with them. They are hard workers and they bring a cozy atmosphere, ”says Michaël Wilde, director Bionext.
Susan, who works as a production manager in the theater sector and started at the Into the Great Wide Open festival last week: “I can’t sit still very well and now that the festival season has ended, I would also like to be useful.”
Before the youngsters arrive, farmers are first helped with the implementation of a meter and a half policy, such as plexiglass screens at the weed beds where six or more people weed lying weeds. To prevent farmers from being burdened with more administration, Nijkagro, an agro service provider, takes care of the contracts and financial settlement of the seasonal workers.
“I think more people on the land and in connection with the farmer are wonderful, hopefully with the result that there will be more appreciation for the farmer and our food,” said Lianne de Bie, director of Slow Food Youth Network (SFYN). “It is very nice to see that young people from our network see opportunities at these times to connect urban and rural areas.”