Facing adversity is nothing new for farmers. Whether it’s dealing with the ebbs and flows of the economy or poor weather conditions, there’s no such thing as a perfect year.
But the COVID-19 pandemic brought forth another obstacle by delaying the arrival of the roughly 10,000 temporary foreign workers who play a pivotal role on British Columbia farms.
“It’s been a spring like no other. The pandemic came and my foreign workers got cancelled. I was one of the lucky ones that got a lot of locals who came out,” said owner of Galey Farms Rob Galey.
But even with the help of local workers, it was tough for farms to gauge just how much planting to do. They also did not know how many foreign workers would be available for the harvest.
But on Galey Farms in Saanich, help has arrived. A number of foreign workers have finished their 14-day quarantine just in time for berry season.
“We’re good to go. The crop as you look behind me right now is absolutely fabulous, couldn’t ask for a better crop. It’s going to be a year of years and we will recover.” said Galey. He expects to have 16 foreign workers in total in the coming weeks.
For Dan Ponchet, the owner of Dan’s Farm, it was a similar spring. He pushed through with help of local workers who have now been joined by seven Mexican farmers to help salvage the season.
“Things have really come along very smoothly here in the past few weeks here. It’s really been good. We just wish the weather would be better but with our Mexican workers and Canadian workers, it’s turned out very well.” Ponchet said.
And the markets at farms have even seen an increase in sales as locals show their support.