18 Jul Tips for Going Fruit Picking
So you’ve been backpacking for some time and suddenly you realise you’ve spent all your cash on booze and well…more booze. You’re living off dried noodles, sleeping on the nearest beach (if you haven’t managed to hook up with someone already) and showering in the sea. You’ve spent your trip saying “Well if the worst comes to the worst, there’s always fruit picking” and now you’re practically running to the nearest orchard.
Fruit picking can be a lifesaver for broke backpackers and there’s always lots of work available with no experience required. In Australia and NZ for example it is often essential to do some fruit picking if you want to obtain a second working visa. Fruit picking is not for the faint hearted, it’s essential to be fit and healthy because you’ll be spending long hours in the heat of the day climbing ladders and carrying fruit. It’s some back-breaking work and you’ll often start very early in the morning and finish late in the afternoon. Countless people will tell you it’s one of the hardest jobs and one of the worst paid, but the advantages are that you can work for short periods of time to fund your bungee jump in New Zealand or your trip to a full moon party.
photo by joyosity
- The first thing to do is make sure you have the relevant working visa and permit to work for the country you are fruit picking in. Despite what people say about getting cash in hand work, it’s ideal if you have the relevant paperwork, a tax number and a bank account in that country.
- Check what fruits are in season– different fruits are being harvested at different times of year and picking seasons will vary from country to country because of the climate. Sometimes there will be less work available if orchards are waiting for the crops to ripen, but in peak harvesting seasons farms and orchards are keen to have as many pickers as possible.
- Next you need to find that all-important job– there are some agencies you can contact who will tell you of all the work available in the area you want to work, or alternatively you can find many seasonal work and picking directories online. It’s also worth thinking about the kind of job you want to do; as well as fruit picking there are all sorts of jobs in the pack houses, operating trucks and pruning trees.
- There’s always a very high turnover and jobs are usually filled as soon as they become available, so often it’s best to phone only a day or two ahead of when you want to start fruit picking. Alternatively if you are in the area you can show up on the day for work.
- Ask about whether you are going to be paid per bin or per hour. The advantage of being paid by the bin is that the more you pick, the more money you make. However in reality it takes a long time to fill up one bin, so it’s often better to be paid by the hour. There’s also a technique to picking as farmers don’t want bruised fruit. At first it may seem hard but you will get quicker the more time you spend doing it
- Find out whether they will give you free accommodation and food whilst you are fruit picking- some will give you free board whilst others will have camp sites or accommodation that you will have to pay for nearby. Some orchards are far out and require transport to get there.
At the end of it your back may be sore and your hands may be raw, but fruit picking is an excellent way to meet people from all walks of life, it’s not just a job for backpackers and what’s more you’ll be earning money for more adventures!