Working at Trewhella Farm
Trewhella Farm is Herb, Berry and Bush Food farm with some cattle for meat and manure. While the Herb, Bush Foods and Cattle have been certified DEMETER Bio-Dynamic for many years, the Berry Farm is in conversion.
Trewhella Farm was originally a 12 acre block of land purchased in 1986. It was part of a much larger farm which had basically been in the same family (The Roddas, also Cornish) since white settlement.
Trewhella is Cornish for farmer on the hill after one of my ancestors (Great Great Grandfather Ben Trewhella who had emigrated from a mixed berry farm in Cornwall over 150 years ago) who earned sufficient money from mining at Barry's Reef to purchase a 150 acre property at Blue Mount in 1867. Interestingly, the southern part of the Blue Mount farm was purchased from J. Dolphin after which our volcano, Dolphins Hill, is named, by Great Grandfather, Ben Trewhella junior. Ben senior was famous for his berries, apples, pears, plums, mulberries, currants, goose berries and of course raspberries. My own grandfather, George Trewhella (as did many of his siblings) had a magnificent raspberry patch from which we were kept in jam for all of my childhood. While the Trewhellas continued to grow berries for their own use, they became more famous for the tree jack & other land clearing aids over the last hundred years.
THE BERRY FARM
Musk Berry Farm was purchased jointly with Peter Liddelow July 2005, from a family that had struggled with ill health for many years, so it was quite run down.
We aim to produce the highest quality produce possible through the use of DEMETER Bio-Dynamic practices as articulated by Alex Podolinsky in which we work with nature. Quality encompasses taste, nutrition and the spiritual aspect of food.
As a harmonious working environment is essential for both productive workers and produce, working at Trewhella Farm should be viewed as a partnership rather than a Employer/Employee relationship.
Good communication is essential and any issues that arise are best dealt with as early as possible rather than letting them simmer. Therefore it is expected that any concerns that you may have, no matter how trivial they may seem are raised as soon as possible and vice versa and worked through.
HOURS OF WORK & CONDITIONS
As the ideal berry picking temperature is also more pleasant for the harvesters, we need flexible working hours based on temperature, weather and stage of ripeness.If it is too hot to pick, it is too hot for the berries as well, therefore it is better to rest during the heat of the day and pick either early or late in the day.
Trewhella Farm has a no smoking on the property policy and only non smokers can be employed.
1. As the best berries are mostly consumed without washing or further processing, it is essential to maintain the highest level of hygiene practices. This means that hands need to be well washed before picking and after going to the toilet, blowing one's nose or patting the dog.
2. Hats should be worn when ever working outside in summer. UV resistant shirts are available for pickers.
3. Sunscreen should be applied half hour prior and hands washed before commencing picking.
4. No saliva, blood or dirt should come in contact with the harvested berries. Contaminated berries should be discarded.
5. Only fully ripe berries should be harvested for the fresh market. Accidental under ripe berries and over ripe berries should be separated in a separate container for jam or processing.
6. Harvested Berries should be kept in the shade (never left in the sun) and cooled asap after harvest.
7. As we need to keep detailed records of what is harvested as well as where and when and by whom, the system is still evolving and would welcome any feed back on how it can be improved. At this stage each bucket is numbered and holds 1 Kg of berries comfortably if only 3/4 full. If over filled, it squashes the berries too much, unless they are blueberries.
8. It is recommended that you attach 2-3 buckets around your waist with a belt, leaving both hands free to pick. This way you can pick "Processing" quality directly into one bucket and "Punnet" quality into another. A record needs to be kept of Bucket Number, Row Number and we can determine Berry Type and weight back at the processing centre.
9. Once berries have been weighed, they should be either sorted asap or transferred into 1 Kg trays and refrigerated to be sold in bulk or sorted later.
10. Buckets need to be washed and air dried between each use, preferably over night.
11. Please do not leave any empty buckets lying around out side, especially not on top of posts (poisoned pine with arsenic, not good for business) as that can make pilfering easier.
12. While I've only encountered the occassional snake (either blacks or copperheads), the reality is that they should be around and it is therefore recommended that you take the walky talky and a pressure bandage (supplied) with each group each day to be on the safe side. If bitten, don't panic and try to immobilize the area and apply the pressure bandage to the wound and above and below site asap, and get some one else to go for help.
RATE OF PAY
While there is room for negotiation depending on the ease of harvesting, the starting rate is $5 per Kg. If a high level of sorting is required (ie jam quality mixed with fresh market quality) the rate will decrease to $2 per Kg.
Experienced harvesters may be offered work in sorting and packaging berries, at which rate depends on the award hourly rate.
Harvest records will be gathered up each Monday for the previous week, Monday to Sunday and pay calculated and deposited in one of the following banks on the Tuesday with a pay slip provided on farm. The banks that are easiest for me to deal with are in order of preference :*Bendigo Bank*Commonwealth*ANZOther banks will take some time in which to deposit pay.
It is expected that regular tasting will take place to monitor flavour and readiness for picking.
Accommodation, water, tea, coffee are provided free to committed workers, (ie this is not a holiday camp) who are prepared to work as required.
Food can be purchased jointly and shared meals are recommended.
As this is an extremely busy time of the year, there is no space or time for non working visitors, nor should non workers be allowed to wander around the farm, without permission.
We hope that you enjoy working with us.