Thursday, 2 April 2020

Farming with COVID: Coping with a big team


Quick thinking cropping farmer Robin Oakley, has put some great isolation practices into play with his workforce of 40 staff. Here are some Covid farming hacks so you can kick Covid-19 into touch.

Robin grows market washed potatoes, broccoli, pumpkins and beetroot, which he supplies to Foodstuffs nationwide. He needs a significant amount of staff right now while he is in the middle of putting crops in, harvesting, washing and despatching crops. Including administration, Robin employs 40 people, which he has to keep safe from the virus as part of the privilege of being an essential service during a nationwide lock down.

So how do you get a team of 40 isolated at work? Well Robin has set up a system where he has divided his farm and staff into eight different groups. They all have separate work areas, separate break areas, loos and wash areas. Not only is this a farm policy already in place, but it was in place by Wednesday the week before lockdown.

“In these situations, you’ve got to think worst-case scenario,” says Robin. “You don’t want to look back with regret thinking you should have done something more or done it earlier.”

With this kind of strategy in place, Robin expects that if the worst case scenario happens and a staff member gets sick, he has been able to prevent the spread to the other work groups, which limits the impact to 5 out of 40 staff.

We are looking for a podcast panel of farmers to talk about how they are farming through COVID-19. If you have some handy tips or stories to share, please get in touch via or post them to our Facebook page.