First day of kiwi picking! We weren’t meant to start, but at 9:15 we got a text from our new boss Bob asking us to start at 10am. Thus began a mad scramble to be ready and present at the field in time.
By the by, when I say ‘we’, I mean the group I’ve been slotted into, consisting of Krislin, a girl from Estonia, Lewis and Thomas, two backpackers from the UK who met on their travels, and Harry, a Korean guy who has a car (and is therefore our only access to work).
We make it in good time, and get told it’ll be selective picking of gold kiwifruit today. This means we’re only picking kiwi fruit over a certain size. It also means we’ll be paid hourly instead of contract.
(Normally, we’ll be paid by contract, which will be interesting as all the pickers get paid on the average number of bins filled. In order to make really good money – over $200 a day, every picker has to fill 15 bins. We’ve been warned that 10 is a minimum, and if you end up being slower than the pro-pickers, you’ll face a lot of pressure to improve as you’ll be bringing down the average).
It’s a good way to start though, as it means it goes slower and you get to practice the right way to pluck the fruit. It almost falls off the branch, but you need to twist it just right to make sure the stalk doesn’t follow. You place them into the bag you have strapped to your front just under your chest, and once filled, you take them over to the bins and release the bag from the bottom. It really doesn’t seem to hard – the biggest issue is making sure you pick the right size, and does mean you’re carrying a half full bag for ages instead of filling it and emptying it as quickly as possible.
As such, by the end my shoulders are in agony, and my neck really stiff from having to look up so long. Might also need to invest in some safety goggles because the amount of dust and dirt that gets into your eyes is frustrating. But certain I can handle the proper pick when it gets started. Just need to wait for the season to really kick off and start making money!