For those who want to experience seasonal work abroad, farm work is an option to consider. Even for those who do not yet have professional qualifications or do not speak foreign languages very well, this can be an interesting way to discover new countries, earn some money and get in touch with other workers of all nationalities.
Like the whole world of work, the agricultural sector has changed a lot in the last decades. The profession has become more and more skilled, requiring specific training and specific knowledge (also to reduce the risk of work accidents, especially for the youngest and most inexperienced), e.g. in handling vehicles or agricultural equipment.
However, there are still manual activities such as picking fruits and vegetables that can be a good opportunity for seasonal work.
It is a strenuous activity concentrated over a relatively short period of time, with a minimum work schedule of 36 hours per week. Room and board are often provided by the host company. Most positions are offered for the summer season from May through September, but many countries require year-round staff for certain types of collections.
Prior experience or special qualifications are not required; workers with experience in the agricultural sector or special skills may apply in areas other than harvesting for longer-term jobs such as supervision, quality control, repair, and operation of machinery.
Seasonal work in Finland
In Finland, the agricultural sector is mainly based on the production of strawberries on farms in the city of Suonenjoki. This sector attracts many seasonal workers, especially in summer in rural areas (mainly in the eastern regions and Varsinais-Suomi).
In some cases, accommodation is provided on farms; the job is very hard.
Prior experience and/or special qualifications are required only for jobs that involve operating farm or harvesting machinery.
Wage is set by unions, but it is always best to find out what salary and conditions to expect before hiring and make sure they are in line with set rates. When looking for a job, it is a good idea to contact the companies in the sector directly. Such as this one, for example: Alenteen
The contact details of the companies can be found online in the Finnish Yellow Pages
Seasonal work in Norway
In Norway, in addition to the agricultural sector, there are also good employment opportunities in fish processing, especially in Trondheim, Bergen and Vardo. To find a job, it is a good idea to contact companies in the industry directly, such as this company: Northern Delight
Many companies require a year-long stay, while some accept applicants for as little as two weeks during the summer.
Contact information for fishing and farming companies can be found in the Norwegian Yellow Pages
Seasonal work in Sweden
In Sweden, you can harvest peas, cucumbers and spinach in the southern counties of the country from June to August.
Contact details for farms can be found in the Swedish Yellow Pages
Seasonal work in Denmark
Denmark offers the possibility of seasonal work as a strawberry picker, it is enough if you know a little English. The harvest season lasts from mid-May to August. The working day usually starts early in the morning. Usually at 5:00 am and lasts about 6-8 hours six days a week. The wage is about 1.00 €/kg (gross). On average, 15 kilos can be collected per hour. Experienced people can even reach 40 kilos in an hour. Much depends on the size, the degree of ripeness, the number of rotten strawberries present, etc.
As for lodging, it is common to sleep in tents, which you must bring from home in most cases; sometimes the employer can provide lodging (for a fee). Farm owners provide shared bathrooms and kitchens.
- Plukselvfrugt, database with data on many farms and their location
- Danskekjordbaer, farm in Hedensted
- Krmmergrd, farm in Bækmarksbro
- Vitokan, farm in Gandrup
You should know that anyone who wants to stay in Denmark for more than 3 months must apply for a “Statsamt” (residence card).
I would also like to point out WWOOF, (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). It is a worldwide movement that matches volunteers with organic farmers and growers. In exchange for your work (usually 4/5 hours per day), you receive room and board but no financial compensation. However, you will have the opportunity to learn the language of the country and learn new things in agriculture and other fields. You have to pay a registration fee for each country you want to join.