Cape Breton farm in need of pickers gets social media boost
A Cape Breton strawberry farm was in fear it would lose its current crop until the power of social media turned things around.
Rendell’s Farm in Mill Creek, N.S was having trouble getting pickers, until an area resident posted on Facebook about the lack of business at the farm.
Her post said she was speaking to farm owner Edward Rendell, who told her only ten of 25 expected pickers had shown up that day.
The farm feared if more people didn’t come out, the crop was at risk of being lost. The post was shared by dozens on social media Wednesday evening and Thursday.
"After that went on the Facebook last night, we're getting a good crowd," Rendell told CTV Atlantic.
On Thursday morning, more than two dozen pickers at a time could be seen in Rendell’s strawberry fields. Some of the volunteers said they came out after seeing the social media post.
"I think it's a shame”, said Michelle Andrea. “Because the strawberries are beautiful here, and it's a great activity to do. So, as many people as possible should come out."
Rendell explained that heavy rain a couple of weeks earlier caused many of his berries to prematurely over-ripen.
Meaning his farm needed more pickers, sooner. Along with a few hours in Thursday’s sunshine and warm weather, those who came out to pick stood to make a few bucks.
"They pick two flats of berries an hour - $6 an hour, that's $12 ... they get paid by the flat”, said Rendell.
With Nova Scotia now into Phase 4 of reopening, and restrictions loosened even further, the hope at the farm is that there will be plenty more days when the strawberry fields are full of pickers.
"Strawberries is a great activity. Come out, get some good exercise. It's beautiful out. What more could you ask for?" Greg McCarron told CTV Atlantic after spending Thursday morning picking berries with his mother-in-law.
"(It would) be nice if some younger people might take an interest and come out and pick," added picker Linda MacLeod.
Rendell said despite how many showed up Thursday, he still expects to lose a portion of the early varieties of the current crop. But he figures that for the most part, it will be salvaged. He’s also optimistic about having enough pickers going forward.
"Most people come out because they enjoy getting out, it's not because they're saving a few dollars. They enjoy doing it," Rendell said.
After all, he has been in farming for about 60 years, so he's seen plenty of changes.
This time he can thank the power of social media - for what could be a productive finish to the season.