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Cherry harvest needing help from local workforce

The Creston Valley – Kootenay Lake Economic Action Partnership (EAP) is asking for 80 to 100 workers to help close out the cherry harvest season to ensure the entire yield can be picked this summer.

Working directly with farmers, to Creston Valley – Kootenay Lake EAP said they are hoping to help them find the additional workers the need.

“We need local people who care about the future of the community to come forward, make some money and support this essential industry over these next couple weeks,” said Aaron Gregory, Community Economic Development Coordinator for the EAP.

According to Gregory, the cherry industry has a tremendous impact on the local economy. In 2018, nearly 2,000 hectares of cherry orchards led to approximately 25.5-million kg of cherries. That amount of fruit carried a total sales value of $88.9-million. Gregory said that money flowed into the local economy, supported local spending and investment, provided jobs, and supported the community through various donations.

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Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Creston, the RDCK, Lower Kootenay Band, Interior Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, Kootenay Employment Services, and the Fields Forward Society have all had to collaborate and partner to try and get through the “turbulent” season.

“Together, we have helped orchardists meet all the COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, provide accommodation on farms, set up an overflow camp, and provide work opportunities for locals,” said Gregory.

Those looking to work in the orchards would begin picking in the early morning until lunch and would be paid by the tote, making as little or as much as they pick. Gregory said the training is provided on the farms by experienced pickets.

Any local residents interested in working can contact the Creston Valley – Kootenay Lake Economic Action Partnership directly by email at [email protected] or phoning Aaron Gregory at 250-402-3561. Gregory said they will then be connected with a local orchard looking for workers to set up employment.

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