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Fri 23 Sep 2011 11:00 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 23 September 2011

Steve Carver lives the life of a seasonal apple picker on a farm in Herefordshire.

In his previous programmes for Radio 4 'Dancing Round the Mediterranean' and 'Touring Round Torquay' , Steve immersed himself in a new line of work, living alongside co-workers and experiencing their way of life.

This year he is 'Picking Round Apples' in Herefordshire:

For a week in mid-August, Steve gave up his home comforts and moved into a small campervan parked in the corner of a field in rural Herefordshire.

Every year a small band of retired people establish a make-shift and temporary, but close community. Every day, all day, they pick apples. The money they earn boosts their pensions, and a simple and quietly sociable life is also a great draw.

However it's hard work - bad backs, scratched arms, and sore feet are the wounds that must be borne.

The retired pickers live in their motor-homes for the summer, with many over-wintering in Spain when the weather begins to cool. No such luxury (or destination) for Steve - we gave him a basic campervan, with no electrical 'hook-up'; the use of a microwave in a farm-building, which also houses the showers and loos.

He was cold at night (trekking socks a necessity in bed, even in August), he got a little sick of microwave meals, but he enjoyed meeting the other pickers, appreciating what they meant by 'getting into the zone' of apple picking: reach... pick... put in bucket... reach... pick... put in bucket... almost - as Steve said - like a form of meditation.

Join Steve to find out how he got on 'Picking Round Apples' at Tillington Fruit Farm near Ledbury in Herefordshire.

Producer: Karen Gregor.

  • Steve and John, the foreman, with their harvest of Discovery apples

    Steve and John, the foreman, with their harvest of Discovery apples


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