21.4 C
Niagara Falls
Friday, June 14, 2024
Letter: It has always been tough to find Canadians to do farm labour

Dear editor:

I am writing about why we don’t have Canadian workers for Niagara’s farms.

We bought our 30-acre farm in 1965 and mainly grew grapes and two acres of peaches.

My husband and I tried to do as much as we could ourselves. I even pruned grapes.

We have two sons who helped us tie and thin and sucker the vineyard.

Then came harvest. The first few years we had family and friends helping us. Once the family and friends grew older, we needed help on the farm. That was hard to get.

We even went to the Salvation Army. That was hard on me because we have to give them lunch.

Then it rained, so we supplied rain suits for everyone. Otherwise help was hard to get.

We once had a young couple from Quebec who brought their baby with them. They stayed in the garage, with the baby in the playpen.

Then GM went on strike. I thought, “Now, we will have help.” But naïve me! The auto workers were getting strike pay so they didn’t want to go work on the farm.

We needed 12 to 15 people for picking grapes. They were hard to find.

In 1972, the grape picker was introduced and we had our grapes picked by machine for the first time.

We still had friends help tie and thin and sucker. Cutting grapes was not easy. Hauling boxes and loading the truck to take them to the winery was hard work.

Then came the immigrant workers from Cambodia. I only needed to say how many people I needed and they got them for us. They helped us for a few seasons, when we most needed it. However, they needed a job for the whole year, which was something we could not provide.

Canadian workers are hard to come by. That is why 30-plus years ago the offshore people came from Jamaica and Mexico.

When we were in the Dominican Republic on vacation we saw a lot of street construction. Our guide said the workers were all from Haiti because the local Dominican people didn’t want to do that kind of job any more. Similarly, Canadians don’t like to do the hard labour of farm work.

Helga Rahm


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