Plan to harvest workers

Ready for today’s launch of Operation Cromwell Harvest are (from left) Jill Herron, Karen Palmer,...
Ready for today’s launch of Operation Cromwell Harvest are (from left) Jill Herron, Karen Palmer, and Joy Campbell. PHOTO: JARED MORGAN
A large-scale operation will be launched in Cromwell today designed to help obtain — and keep — workers on Central Otago orchards.

Dubbed Operation Cromwell Harvest, the initiative is a collaboration between Connect Cromwell and Cromwell Community House, and includes input from Summerfruit NZ, the Workforce Accommodation Network, and other groups.

Wide-ranging in scope, it is aimed at encouraging the community to do what it can to help ease labour and accommodation shortages in the horticulture and, later, the viticulture sectors.

That included asking people to consider renting beds to pickers, collecting non-perishable food for workers and host families, and organising social events to help the labour force connect with the community.

Cromwell Community House co-ordinator Karen Palmer said the idea arose from multiple people and organisations thinking alike before this season’s harvest.

Simultaneously, Connect Cromwell was fielding similar inquiries and it was decided co-ordination of networks and support workers had to be put in place to help the influx of labour, Miss Palmer said.

The community house would offer a free welfare drop in service to workers throughout the season.

Connect Cromwell media and communications manager Jill Herron said a member of the public approached the organisation with the idea people could pick on weekends but that was impractical due to training, health and safety, and other issues.

"The discussion led to other growers giving feedback and all of us refining what locals actually could do."

While the stone fruit harvest had been the focus, there were plans to speak to the wine sector and expanding the programme to include it.

People were encouraged to offer a bed by registering on the Workforce Accommodation Network website which aimed to connect workers with suitable places to stay.

Other initiatives included listing events and information for workers on Connect Cromwell’s website, and Summerfruit NZ is organising a workers’ discount card with local businesses.

Part of today’s launch includes a can drive from 6pm, organised by Property Brokers, Cromwell Lions and Cromwell Scouts.

Property Brokers residential and lifestyle consultant Joy Campbell said the food collected would be split 50:50 between Operation Cromwell Harvest and the Salvation Army.


Why do fruit workers need food provisions provided? They are working and able to provide for themselves or something is badly wrong in the wages or hours of work. The industry then needs to address such problems.