The world’s largest daffodil grower, which is based in Cornwall, is having to let hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of flowers rot following Brexit. Varfell Farms, at Long Rock, Penzance, produces 500 million stems a year and needs 700 workers to pick them.
However, since Covid and the end of free movement following Brexit, the business only has around 400 flower pickers as many of its workers have previously come from EU countries. The business’ owner Alex Newey told Radio 4’s The World This Weekend that it has to let daffodils rot in the fields as a result.
“We can’t harvest them, we don’t have enough pickers to pick them. We’re losing hundreds of thousands of pounds,” he said. Hopes that Cornish workers could step into the shoes of those who are now unable to travel from the European Union have been dashed.
“We have significant recruitment drives for local workers to come and harvest crops,” added Mr Newey. “It’s idealistic to think that because of Covid and the higher than usual unemployment rates that those people would come in and do that work.
“I would say that a daffodil harvester is to be highly respected because the work is very hard. You’re out in the cold weather, it’s in Cornwall, it blows pretty hard down there. It’s wet and you’re bending over picking daffodils for three months.
“Frankly, the people that we’ve had to come and do this work, the locals, may last a day or two days, but they certainly don’t last two or three months.”
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