Want to try your hand at daffodil picking? Lack of foreign workers leaves Island farm in need of employees

Want to try your hand at daffodil picking? Lack of foreign workers leaves Island farm in need of employees
WatchLongview Farms is looking for locals to try their hand at daffodil picking as a lack of foreign workers means the flowers won't be harvested on time.

The flowers are flourishing at Longview Farms in Central Saanich, including its well-known fields filled with daffodils.

“It’s our season at this time of year, so we have over 50 acres planted in bulbs and over 5-million flowers,” said Nora Cumming, the sales and office manager of Longview Farms.

But there’s a problem. This year, there just aren’t enough hands to pick the flowers before they wilt because of the lack of foreign workers.

Daffodils need to be picked before they bloom, so by the time they reach customers, they’re at the right part of their life-cycle.

Usually, 95 per cent of the daffodils are picked on time at Longview, ready to be sent out to local shops and distributors in the Pacific Northwest in the United States. However, this year, many have already bloomed while still rooted in the ground.

“We do have farm workers that come from Mexico every year, we are unable to house as many due to our COVID policies, so that has definitely put some limitations on our productions, just because we have half the number of workers,” said Cummings.

So instead, the farm is appealing to locals, inviting anyone to come and try their hand at daffodil picking.

“It is quite hard work but I just look up at this beautiful view and think, ‘okay this is nice, a beautiful place to be in the world,'” said daffodil picker Ekahn Jennett, looking out at the ocean view from the fields.

In Victoria, the daffodil-picking season runs from early January until mid-April.

At this farm, the more you pick, the more you earn, as local workers are on a piece-work plan that pays for how many bundles you collect.

“It’s an interesting thing, being part of the piece work because if you work harder you get a little more money,” said Jennett.

Even with the pandemic and a lighter workforce, Longview Farms has been able to grow not only its plants but its business.

“There’s been a lot of opportunities to expand our business,” said the farm’s head grower Emily Mceachan.

“For example, we were not thinking of doing plant-starts historically, but this year, we’ve been officially approved to go ahead and do that because we have so many new gardeners out there that want to get into that, which is an opportunity that we can expand on.”

Once the daffodils are picked, Longview Farms hopes to further connect with locals by opening farm stands at Island markets.

If you would like to try your hand at daffodil picking, call the farm’s employment line at 250-652-1131 and get out there anytime from now, until Easter, before the bulbs blossom.

Head grower Emily McEarchan at Longview Farms, looking for help with daffodil picking

Emily McEarchan, head grower at Longview Farms, is looking for help with daffodil picking this year due to a shortage of temporary foreign workers. (Rebecca Lawrence/CHEK News)

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READ MORE: Greater Victoria’s annual flower count set to bloom for another year

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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