Prince Charles urges furloughed workers to 'pick for Britain'

19 May 2020, 09:18

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Prince of Wales has called on the public to rediscover the “great movement” of the Land Army to help "pick for Britain" in a national effort to help farmers with harvesting fruit and vegetables.

The Prince likened the project to the Women's Land Army of World War Two, which was used to increase food production during the conflict.

Charles has backed the Government plan to encourage UK workers to team up with farmers to ensure crops do not rot during the coronavirus crisis.

The Royal used a video message to describe fruit and vegetable picking as “unglamorous and, at times, challenging”, said the “hard graft” would be vital to help prevent food waste growing.

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The Prince recorded the message from the grounds of his home in Scotland
The Prince recorded the message from the grounds of his home in Scotland. Picture: LBC

In a message recorded at his Scottish home of Birkhall, the Prince said: "Food does not happen by magic, it all begins with our remarkable farmers and growers.

"If the last few weeks have proved anything, it is that food is precious and valued, and it cannot be taken for granted.

"This is why that great movement of the Second World War - the Land Army - is being rediscovered in the newly created 'Pick For Britain' campaign.

"In the coming months, many thousands of people will be needed to bring in the crops. It will be hard graft but is hugely important if we are to avoid the growing crops going to waste."

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The heir to the throne said: "Harvesting runs until the early autumn and people are needed who are genuinely going to commit.

"The phrase I have often heard is 'pickers who are stickers'.

"I do not doubt that the work will be unglamorous and, at times, challenging. But it is of the utmost importance and, at the height of this global pandemic, you will be making a vital contribution to the national effort.

"So, I can only urge you to Pick For Britain."

The Government's initiative follows concerns raised by producers that there will be a shortage in seasonal workers coming to the UK from eastern Europe due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

A Pick For Britain website, supported by the industry, has been launched by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, to help bring those seeking work and farmers together.

Peak periods for harvesting produce run from June to the autumn and it is hoped that people from students to laid-off hospitality workers will take the opportunity.