More than 500 full time jobs are available at an apple and pear producer for this year’s harvest season.
A C Goatham & Son will be hiring staff to work in their network of orchards across Kent from June, which supply a sixth of the apples sold in the UK’s supermarkets.
The company will be hiring up to 100 thinners from June to August to remove some crops from trees to allow others to grow.
More than 500 workers are being hired at AC Goatham & Son for the harvest season
The firm is looking for a harvest crew of about 350 to work from September to November and then 55 packhouse workers to look after the fruit when it goes into its giant cold store at Flanders Farm, its headquarters in Hoo.
It comes as the firm has planted the largest pear orchard in Kent for decades near Canterbury.
HR manager Gayle Goatham said: “The timing of the work is dictated by the harvest season, but these are all full time positions for a fixed period and will be shift work.
“We look for people with a variety of skills and experience and often take people on for a number of months who can move to different roles as the season progresses.”
The business has recently hired five full time staff, including two farm apprentices – Esther Harvey from Higham and Nathan Carter from Hoo.
AC Goatham & Son’s headquarters at Flanders Farm, Hoo
Miss Harvey said: “I am really enjoying my work and I love the variety and also not being stuck indoors all day.
“I like to be outside and I feel this is helping me to learn a real variety of skills, which will be essential for my future career in the industry.
“Working in the horticultural sector is really interesting and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a job to consider it.”
The company has completed the first phase of planting a conference pear orchard in Elmstone, near Canterbury, which it claims is the largest to be planted in more than 40 years.
The pear orchard planted at Elmstone by AC Goatham & Son
The site will include 63,000 trees and will produce about 60 tonnes per hectare each year – roughly 20kg a tree.
So far, 43,000 trees have been planted and the remaining 20,000 trees will be planted this coming winter.
Known as an expensive crop, the firm will be using the latest technology to help it directly compete against European grown and imported pears.
Ross Goatham, partner at A C Goatham & Son, said: “We growers have to be more competitive and innovative if we are looking to compete directly with European growers, before the market for English grown pears disappears completely.
Ross Goatham with pear blossom at Mierscourt Farm in Rainham, part of the firm’s network producers across Kent
“Whilst European growers may have the climate on their side, we are now looking to use the latest growing technology to compete more equally with them.”
The business has carried out growing trials of the crop over the past three years.
Mr Goatham added: “We felt if we didn’t do something now to try and stop the decline in British conference pear growth in the UK, they may disappear from our supermarket shelves altogether.
“This new orchard will see meaningful cropping after three years in 2018, so the old adage about planting pears for heirs will no longer ring true.”