Prince Charles called upon “pickers who are stickers’ to join a national effort to help farmers with the “unglamorous” job of harvesting fruit and vegetables. Charles backed the Government’s initiative to bring UK workers and farmers together to ensure crops are not left to rot in the ground during the coronavirus outbreak.
Measures are preventing EU seasonal workers to reach the UK has prompted Environment Secretary George Eustice to urge “tens of thousands” Britons to help with the harvest.
Now, his Royal Highness Prince Charles, who runs an organic farm at his home in Gloucestershire, has used his own platform to get behind the campaign.
In a message to all Britons, Charles likened the “vital” project to the Women’s Land Army, which helped boost Britain’s food production during the Second World War.
The prince spoke out in a rare video message recorded the vegetable garden of his Scottish home, where he is currently residing with the Duchess of Cornwall.
The Prince of Wales has called on furloughed workers to take up a second job picking fruit
The Government’s initiative is to bring UK workers and farmers together to ensure crops are not left to rot in the ground during the coronavirus outbreak
In the clip posted on the Clarence House social media accounts, the Prince said: “Food does not happen by magic, it all begins with our remarkable farmers and growers.
“If the last few weeks have proved anything, it is that food is precious and valued, and it cannot be taken for granted.
“This is why that great movement of the Second World War – the Land Army – is being rediscovered in the newly created ‘Pick For Britain’ campaign.
“In the coming months, many thousands of people will be needed to bring in the crops.
Measures are preventing EU seasonal workers to reach the UK has prompted Environment Secretary George Eustice to urge ‘tens of thousands’ Britons to help with the harvest
“It will be hard graft but is hugely important if we are to avoid the growing crops going to waste.”
In the video, the heir to the throne says: “Harvesting runs until the early autumn and people are needed who are genuinely going to commit.
“The phrase I have often heard is ‘pickers who are stickers’.
“I do not doubt that the work will be unglamorous and, at times, challenging.
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The Government’s initiative follows concerns raised by producers that there will be a shortage in seasonal workers coming to the UK from eastern Europe
Charles likened the ‘vital’ project to the Women’s Land Army
“But it is of the utmost importance and, at the height of this global pandemic, you will be making a vital contribution to the national effort.
“So, I can only urge you to Pick For Britain.”
The Government’s initiative follows concerns raised by producers that there will be a shortage in seasonal workers coming to the UK from eastern Europe due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions.
A Pick For Britain website, supported by the industry, has been launched by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, to help bring those seeking work and farmers together.
Royal Family tree
Peak periods for harvesting produce run from June to the autumn and it is hoped that people from students to laid-off hospitality workers will take the opportunity.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Environment Secretary George Eustice said that in a normal year about 30,000 people come from mainly the European Union to do seasonal agricultural work, though only a third are here due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
Now, around two million furloughed and laid off staff, who were working in restaurants, hotels, bars and pubs, are a key target to help plug the gap in the workforce.
He said: “We will need a significant number of British people, in particular those who have been furloughed they have the chance if they want.
Prince Charles called upon “pickers who are stickers’ to join a national effort to help farmers
“We are getting huge interest from people wanting to do this,” he said. “We need tens of thousands of people to do this work.”
The peak comes at the end of May and during June, he said.
Farms across Britain have seen low applicants ready to work on the harvest after calling for volunteers.
Britain’s Land Army has made a call to source workers to help pick fruit and vegetables as the harvest season draws near, but applications have been low so far.