GraceKate Farms joined the Seasonal Worker Programme in 2012 and has been employing workers from the Pacific islands ever since. The business has now joined the Pacific Labour Scheme, which will allow it to access workers for up to three years. Having a returning workforce allows the owners to grow their farm and plan for the future.
Kerry and Simon McCarthy own and manage GraceKate Farms on the Darling Downs in Queensland.
The farm supplies leafy greens to Woolworths, Coles and Aldi, as well as to the Brisbane markets at Rocklea.
The business has employed workers from Solomon Islands through the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) since 2012.
The workers help manage and harvest crops throughout the year and many of these workers return to the farm for multiple seasons.
“Having these workers on the farm has enabled us to expand our business,” Kerry said.
“We would not have been nearly as big as we are now if they weren’t here because local labour is so sparse.
“They want to work, they’re highly productive and they hit the ground running.
“Our team from Solomon Islands is fabulous and because of them we’re now able to plan ahead.”
The McCarthys have realised that they need workers for longer periods to support their larger business and will look to the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) to help fill this need.
“Our work is mostly seasonal, and we are a small operation, but even in the down time there is lots of behind-the-scenes work to be done, getting paddocks ready, maintaining equipment and so on,” Kerry said.
“It will be great to get a more permanent workforce on the ground soon to help us prepare for the harvesting season.”