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Farms Are Turning to Waiters and Convicts to Harvest Fruit

  • Farms are worried about getting enough seasonal foreign labor
  • Worker shortages could lead to food rotting in fields
Seasonal workers arrive to harvest asparagus at one of G’s farms in Hurcott, U.K., May 5.
Seasonal workers arrive to harvest asparagus at one of G’s farms in Hurcott, U.K., May 5.Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

Louise Wickens usually works at a stables in England’s West Midlands, hiring out horses and dressing them as unicorns for children’s parties. With business closed for the lockdown, she’s turned her hand to planting vegetables at a nearby farm.

She’s just one of the locals being hired by fruit and vegetable farms as travel restrictions disrupt life for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers crucial at this time of year. With worries that there’ll be a shortage of labor -- especially for upcoming harvests -- growers and governments around the world are renting planes and rallying students, waiters and even prisoners to fill the gap.