We don’t know about you, but one of the things that struck us as our plane descended into England is how hugely green it is.
We know this isn’t exactly a revelation – it is known as the ‘green and pleasant land’ after all – but we were still gawping out of our window at the patchwork fields that seemed to stretch for miles.
It seems a shame, then, to spend all your time in the Big Smoke as spring begins to bloom, when there’s fresh air, lolloping lambs and fields of corn calling out to you.
If you’ve got farming experience, then why not spend the season living the rural life? Here, TNT looks at agricultural jobs, so you can spend your spring and summer getting your hands dirty, rather than your lungs…
What roles are available?
Whether you see yourself astride a tractor or you’re comfortable having your hand up a sheep’s, er, front bottom, there are various jobs to keep you busy on the farm.
Nigel Merriam, who is the co-owner of 4xtrahands.com which posts vacancies for agricultural and rural jobs, tells us they currently have more than 100 jobs vacant. “Typical vacancies are herd managers, shepherds, lambers, pig stock people, beef workers, tractor drivers, harvester drivers, sprayer operators, plant operators (360s, back-hoes, dumpers), fencers, estate workers and groundwork operators.”
To apply, simply visit 4extrahands.com, register as a worker, fill in an online CV form – enter lots of details about your experience – and apply!
Who are they looking for?
“You are unlikely to find a job without some expertise or prior training,” says Merriam. “Employers are looking for people with qualifications or experience in modern agriculture and rural work. Modern farming is very technical,” he adds.
The good news is, the work is perfect for expats looking to earn a quick buck to spend on travelling. “Farming in Europe fits in well seasonally. We have many Kiwis and Aussies who do the European harvest – June to October – then hay, silage and harvest, which will earn them a lot of money. They either save it or use it to go to Thailand for three months!” says Merriam.
Also, what was primarily seen as a male environment is opening up more and more to women. “Females are now really making big inroads into livestock farming, especially dairy and lambing jobs,” tells Merriam.
The pros and cons?
Alongside the aforementioned perks of getting plenty of fresh air (even if it often doesn’t smell like it) and soaking up the beautiful countryside, you will earn a decent wage and have minimal outgoings, with accommodation often provided and cheap, farm-grown produce to feast on. Plus you’re not stuck in an office – bonus!
The cons are that the hours can be long, with very early mornings likely – but then the more hours you work, the more money you get. It’s quite tough physically, but it’s a great way to keep fit. If the weather is poor, you might get stuck out in it, or your hours, and therefore money, might be cut.
Where are the jobs?
If you’re a city slicker, this industry obviously isn’t for you. “Unsurprisingly, there are not many farms in London!” laughs Merriam. “A few are within an hour of central London. The majority are further away, but all within a six- hour train trip.”
If you want the best of both worlds, there are small city farms, community gardens or horticulture centres in London you could try for work. Places such as Mudchute and Hackney City Farm are generally volunteer run, but if you have any special experience with farming, you may be able to earn some cash by helping out with the animals or crops. Working in a garden centre or tending to greenhouses in places such as Kew Gardens is a good option if you have some knowledge of plants.
Farmgarden.org.uk promote community managed green spaces and they have some great job listings.