Do you want to get a Strawberry Picking Job to earn some extra money? Fruit picking is the backpackers lifesaver, not just in Australia, but throughout Europe and the Americas as well.
If you have read my story, you know that I worked on a strawberry farm many years ago after high school for three months. It was a summer job for students and I had a lot of fun, but it was also extremely hard work!
And I've never again worked in agriculture, because there are definitely easier ways to earn money :-)
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Even though it sounds romantic and tasty, strawberry picking is physical farm work and is not suited for everyone! Be very clear that you have to bend down, stand, and walk the whole day. Rarely can you sit down and crawl forward.
Therefore, being physically fit and having good stamina helps. At the same time, usually the sun is burning and you will feel hot and sweaty. So don't forget to bring sunglasses, a hat and apply sun cream regularly.
Furthermore drink plenty of water throughout the day. This is especially important if you are not used to being outside in an open field for several hours at a time.
But if you want to make the experience, go ahead and see for yourself.
Harvest time in the Northern hemisphere depends on the weather but this farm work generally lasts from May to August. Although nowadays in places like California, Spain or Northern Africa the season lasts until November.
In Australia and New Zealand the fruit picking season peaks during our winter. This is from December to May, giving you the chance to have harvesting work all year around.
During this time strawberry farms are looking for seasonal workers to pick the fruits. In general, becoming a seasonal worker requires no experience and most farms are eager to get more hands working, but those who have already harvested fruit will know about the hard work it is.
Fruit pickers start early in the morning and finish before the afternoon heat. Strawberries picked in the morning cool will stay fresh for a longer time, which is exactly what the farmers and supermarkets need.
You are usually paid cash in hand, which is why this kind of work is very popular amongst backpackers and long term travelers.
Most common payment is per kilogram or pound weight of picked produce, but an hourly or daily rate do also exist.
Therefore the amount you can earn depends greatly on your harvesting abilities. With a few tricks and tips from more experienced strawberry pickers you can get to earnings of $10-15 per hour, rarely more.
Some farmers provide accommodation for their agricultural workers, mostly in caravans or tents. But you can also be lucky and stay in the farmhouse. This can be either free of charge or for a small daily charge.
But beware, there are some black sheep amongst the farmers who will overcharge food and accommodation and at the same time not pay you what you earned.
It's always best to seek advice from other pickers who've been there before.
Always make sure you have a valid visa and/or work permit for the country where you're looking for farm work as a seasonal worker. Some farmers might not require to see your paperwork, nevertheless you're responsible to have all permissions necessary!
Pickingjobs.com has a list of worldwide seasonal farm job vacancies.
When you're picking to be paid, you cannot select only the plump, firm, big fruits. You need to pick all of them, big and small. But pick only the berries that are fully red.
It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to pick a quart for a beginner, if the berries are reasonably plentiful. With time, you will become faster.
Grasp the stem just above the berry between the forefinger and the thumbnail and pull with a slight twisting motion. Repeat these operations using both hands until each holds 3 or 4 berries.
Carefully place - don't throw - the fruit into your containers. Repeat the picking process with both hands.