BRITISH COLUMBIA – A pilot program this summer is connecting BC employers with seasonal domestic workers looking for employment in Okanagan orchards and vineyards.
BC Fruit Works is a collaboration between the BC Grape Growers’ Association, BC Cherry Association, BC Fruit Growers’ Association and the BC Tree Fruit Cooperative, with support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
“The BC Fruit Works program has the potential to shift our fruit industries into a more organized, collaborative unit, ensuring more efficient communication and feedback on the casual workforce that we require to operate as a successful industry. It’s a much-needed step toward stabilizing our labour issues throughout all fruit sectors,” said John Bayley, president of the BC Grape Growers’ Association.
In June, BC Fruit Works began a trial launch with several goals, including:
- engaging domestic workers to work as branch hands in Okanagan orchards and vineyards;
- leveraging technology, including web forms, social media, text messaging, QR codes, scheduling automation and digital marketing, to build a marketplace that connects workers with producers efficiently and in real time; and
- creating ongoing job opportunities in Okanagan orchards and vineyards, building support for local growers, and protecting and sustaining B.C.’s food supply for years to come.
“The BCFGA is happy to be included in the creation and implementation of this project as the representatives of fruit growers across the province. BC Fruit Works had a dedicated team of creative and energetic people working on this project, and I am looking forward to seeing how it builds and grows now that it is being used within the industry,” said Annelise Simonsen, director of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association.
The province’s high-value and high-quality fruit, including honeycrisp, ambrosia and pink lady apples as well as late-season cherries, are in high demand locally and around the world, as well as more than 60 different grape varieties, including merlot, pinot gris, pinot noir, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, gewurztraminer, cabernet franc, syrah, riesling and sauvignon blanc.