Franconia’s favorite vegetable, asparagus, is currently in high season. After a warm winter and pre-summer temperatures around easter time, it urgently needed pruning. But also the agricultural sector was overtaken by the corona crisis – like the hairdressers. And so jasmin swetlik swapped her comb and scissors for an asparagus knife, gloves and harvest basket without further ado. The mobile hairdresser in the kitzingen and wurzburg area now works at karin and udo hertlein’s spargelhof haidt.
Among the non-specialist helpers are students, many short-time workers from companies such as leoni and fehrer, but also self-employed people such as hairdressers or employees of specialist shops. They want to supplement their salaries while they are on vacation, and also help out the farming community. These usually have their eastern european helpers, but in times of corona it is not only expensive but also time consuming to bring them to germany.
Harvest workers flown in from eastern europe
The 26 harvesters from eastern europe at "udo’s spitzenspargel had to be flown in and had to undergo a security check at the airport. Only then were they allowed to start their seasonal work in haidt – separated from the new employees from the region. The rest of the rumanian harvest workers arrive in the kleinlangheim district by bus from nurnberg at the weekend.
To cope with the situation, asparagus farmers like udo hertlein recruited helpers with appeals on facebook and ebay. That’s how jasmin swetlik became aware of the new job, which is just a few kilometers from her home in kleinlangheim. As a newcomer she was introduced to the art of asparagus planting and now she says: "with a little skill you can quickly learn the job"."
"Of course, we are not as fast and profitable as our eastern european colleagues, but we all try very hard." Master hairdresser jasmin swetlik on asparagus harvesting
Her team includes up to 15 people between the ages of 20 and 35 "who make the work really fun, although it is also very strenuous, of course", says the young hairdresser. "At the beginning you have one or the other muscle ache in the evening", she remembers "but the body quickly gets used to the new physical challenge. Swetlik has already been a harvest helper for two weeks and will probably remain one until the beginning of may.
Work in the field starts at 7 a.M. Sharp. Each individual spear is cut out with a special asparagus knife, placed in the harvest basket and the tarpaulin is put back over the field. They work on their knees or hunched over for at least six hours.
Young people motivate themselves together to achieve a good yield. Because that’s what matters: the full baskets at the end of the day. Swetlik: "it makes you really happy and you’re glad to be making a contribution." And farmer udo hertlein is happy about the new helpers: "we are growing together right now and the profession of farmer is gaining a new value."
Important source of income for eastern europeans
The master hairdresser likes working in nature: "of course we are not as fast and productive as our eastern european colleagues, but we all try very hard to avoid contagion." To avoid contagion, german and eastern europeans work separately in different fields.
The goal of both groups is different: while the germans mainly want to increase their salary or show their cohesion with the farmers, for the harvesters, who mostly come from romania, the source of income in germany is a fixed part of their annual income.
Asparagus cultivation and farm shop udo hertlein’s farm in haidt is a medium-sized family business that has specialized in asparagus cultivation since 1989. In addition, strawberries and rhubarb are grown there and sold in the farm store with other food products such as bread from the wood-fired oven. Udo’s huhner mobil" is new, which will be set up at the end of april. The 250 chickens inside are allowed to spend their day in the field and have a rough free-range enclosure.