Carrot paddock - Forth - Tasmania - Australia - © Claire Blumenfeld

Carrots contact

or two months working in Tasmanian vegetable fields..

Since a few days it starts to get very cold in the morning. The cold pierces my hands and feet that gloves and boots can not keep warm. I watch the evolution of the sunrise from the corner of my eye hoping for a sudden warming of the atmosphere.

From late April to late June I worked at Premium Fresh. A vegetable farm ten minutes from Devonport. Three teams of about ten people take care of hand picking the different vegetables that the farm produces. The team where I was is picking carrots, rhubarb and silverbeet. Sometimes we go to help the other teams (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, leeks, beetroots). The name of the team is Bunching Crew because we make “bunches”. Bunches of carrots, rhubarb and silverbeet. With elastics. Red for carrots and rhubarb and yellow for silverbeet.

The atmosphere of the team is strange. Not very friendly but not horrible either. I do not discuss much. Must say that the majority of the team is Taiwanese. Six Taiwanese, two Tasmanians and me. A French woman lost in the middle of all that. The Taiwanese already know each other and do not have much desire to connect with me apparently. Apart from two-three people, I have no exchange with the rest. The Tasmanians; the supervisor and a 31-year-old guy do not have conversations that are smart enough to make me want to join. So I concentrate on making my bunches. 9 to 12 carrots per bunch (depending on the size). 1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … 5 … etc. In loop all day. 25 bunches form a pile. The system of arrangement of the bunches was put in place by James, the supervisor. It allows him to quickly count how many carrots we have harvested. Every morning the numbers fall: 3000 carrots, 500 rhubarb and 300 silverbeet to harvest today. Sometimes we only harvest carrots all day long.

The job is not complicated. It is very simple and the pace is quiet (most of the time). We start at 7am and usually finish at 4pm. If we have finished harvesting all the orders for the day before 4pm, we can go home or go weeding the silverbeet paddock. The work is not really physical either. Sitting on the ground all day long is not tiring except for some languor in the legs. With the exception of weeding which is really not nice. Nothing to do with the stress of my previous job as a raspberry supervisor in Costa. But it does not prevent me from being bored. I can not stand the repetitiveness and when there is nobody to discuss with, well I find it hard to find motivation to do my hundreds bunches per hour. The monotony kills me. And while I understand that some can find the work relaxing (for the mind), I think it lacks a little challenge. Not interesting enough to hold all day.

Some of the Taiwanese in the team have been there for months. One person in the team has been there for 10 months !! Almost a year to pick carrots. I can not help but find that a little meaningless. I know that most Taiwanese are there to make money (the salary in Taiwan being ridiculously low) but since the work in Premium Fresh is paid only $22.86 per hour (less than the minimum of $23.53), I do not think it’s the best job to save money.

Mid April, alas for me, the work hours at Costa in the raspberries began to shrink, the end of the season arriving. Having applied to work in the ski resorts for the winter season of 2018 and having received a positive response for Mt Buller, the third largest ski resort in Australia, I left my job as a supervisor. But the winter season only starts at the end of June, I ended up with two months to wait. So I had to find another job and the only remaining possibility in April in Tasmania is in the vegetable harvest. I also had about 20 days left to do to complete my total of 88 days on farm required to apply for a second year visa in Australia. Premium Fresh turned out to be my only option left.

After two months of work, my work experience at Premium Fresh allowed me to put some money aside and to spend a little more time in Tasmania to explore the island during my days off. But I’m really happy to finish. Two months is more than enough. It is time to move on.

Carrot paddock - Forth - Tasmania - Australia - © Claire Blumenfeld



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