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Seasonal harvest workers in Cromwell for the summer were welcomed to the community with a barbecue and games last Wednesday.

The barbecue was one of a series of Operation Cromwell Harvest events designed to integrate seasonal workers into the community throughout the season.

Cromwell Community House manager Karen Palmer said the initiative was launched last season as a way to welcome and look after seasonal workers who come to the area for the summer harvest.

“Last season it was getting to be a struggle to get enough workers, so we wanted to ensure those that did come felt welcome and set up Operation Cromwell Harvest,” she said.

Hole in one . . . Ella Hjertquist tosses the beanbag in a round of cornhole at the Seasonal Workers Welcome barbecue last week. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON

The initiative was a collaboration between Summerfruit NZ, Connect Cromwell, Sport Otago, the Workforce Accommodation Network and Cromwell Community House.

Summerfruit NZ Central Otago labour co-ordinator Tracey Mansfield said it was important for seasonal workers to feel welcome.

“When they come to town, we’re trying to get them to get involved in the community, and mix and mingle not only with the industry, but groups in the community as well,” she said.

“It brings a bit of diversity into the community.”

For returning Sarita Orchard worker Joel Hjertquist the barbecue was a good way to meet people from other orchards.

He returned for the summer from Dunedin encouraged family to join him experience last year.

“I think the best thing was the experience and the friends I made,” he said.