It doesn’t take much to provide for farm workers. A warm shower is a huge comfort at the end of a hot work day in the orchard. FACTOS-Farm And Community Team Okanagan Similkameen spent April 22 touring farms and vineyards near Oliver to get a better idea of what farmers offer to their seasonal workers. The activities formed “A Day On The Farm” and ended in an open forum where farmers could ask questions of government and agency reps like Pinder Dhaliwal, Vice-President of the BCFGA and Steve Marino of Worksafe BC.
Greg and Chris Norton started small. The sheltered kitchen area for their workers near Oliver didn’t have a concrete floor at first. That came in time. Many farmers offer up comparable amenities to their workers. Other farmers are hard-pressed to even provide a toilet. Visitors to their farm April 22 included representatives from Employment Standards and the FACTOS-Farm And Community Team Okanagan Similkameen. Greg and Chris have employed seasonal farm workers since 1986 when they took over the family farm. Most vineyards, ironically, do not offer accommodations, camping, a place to eat or showers to their workers.
Fancy-schmancy. Compared to sleeping in the elements, the rooms offered by Greg and Chris Norton near Oliver are the Taj Mahal of seasonal farm worker accommodations. Several years ago, Greg and Chris bought building materials from the dismantled Southwind Inn in Oliver and used the wood to build more rooms for their seasonal farm workers. Each year, the couple adds something: a new bunkhouse, a sitting room, a clothes line… They have no need to advertise for workers: they treat their workers like family and as such, they get the best of workers returning year after year.
For information, contact Arlene Arlow, Chair,
FACTOS-Farm And Community Team Okanagan Similkameen