Accommodation link system for orchard workers

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One Teviot Valley orchardist has come up with a simple option to attract more seasonal orchard workers to the valley and help address the predicted shortage during the fruit harvest.

Berrylands cherry and berry grower Leonie Patrick is offering to match workers who need accommodation with people who have a spare room or two during the harvest period, and she is doing it free of charge.

She put the idea on social media and was thrilled with the feedback she has received.

‘‘I had about 20 responses, with a couple of different people who have houses or units to rent.”

‘‘The rest are from people with a spare room or two.”

‘‘The locals have been really supportive, and it’s a great response, and I was really impressed. It is just a community service.’’

She has told those responding she would be back in touch closer to the time when staff needed accommodation.

She would not be involved with how much rent was to be charged, or any terms and conditions, as that would be between the two parties.

‘‘I imagine there will be different scenarios for different people.’’

While there was predicted to be a shortage of picking and packing staff this season because of Covid-19 border restrictions, several organisations, including Otago Polytechnic Central, Seasonal Solutions and Central Otago District Council, were trying to encourage more workers to come to the region to help out.

About 5000 jobs would be available in the picking season, some staff being required from mid-October onwards while the bulk would be needed during peak season in December, January and February.

Mrs Patrick was still keen to hear from anyone with rooms and she could be contacted through social media.