Suffolk

Coronavirus: Woodbridge farmer's call for asparagus harvest pickers

Growing asparagus Image copyright Bruce Kerr
Image caption Asparagus shoots are already springing out of the ground and will be ready for harvesting next month

A farmer is asking for people to help pick crops as his regular team of pickers are unable to travel from mainland Europe due to coronavirus.

Bruce Kerr said he normally relied on 90 pickers to harvest asparagus from early April for an eight-week season.

To fill the shortfall, he said he was hoping to recruit people local to the farm which is near Woodbridge, Suffolk.

Mr Kerr said he had been "overwhelmed" by the response to his Twitter post and is contacting those that want the work.

"A lot of the vegetable and fruit industry is reliant on seasonal workers and obviously asparagus is one of the early crops, it's fairly imminent in terms of harvesting," he said.

"But if these borders stay closed for a long period of time it could impact dramatically on a number of colleagues in our industry.

"We are putting a call-out for local communities to come and assist us anyway they can going forward."

Mr Kerr said his team of pickers had been unable to reach Abbey Farm because of the various border closures that have been put in place around Europe due to the outbreak.

He said his social media post had 12,000 "impressions" within two and a half hours, and was retweeted by more than 700 people.

Mr Kerr said they offered the national living wage plus a productivity bonus.

Those who have expressed interest include an agricultural student whose university has closed due to coronavirus, he said.

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