by kaiconfusion

This story is about contemporary working and living realities on Australian farms. About working and travelling in Australia, farm work, fair wages, working conditions and conventional farming vs. sustainable farming methods…
A story and photo collage about farm work on a farm in Donnybrook in Western Australia with insides on working conditions and foreign workers exploitation not on a permaculture or organic farm but on a conventional farm.
Farming methods with sprays and disregard for people and nature that causes land erosion, pollution, destruction and workers exploitation and discrimination. All that is part of the reality of how food comes to our tables from ploughing to sowing over weeding, picking, washing and selling. All done without honourable ethics like the ones of permaculture but with nothing but greed for money. Our farm does not represent the all agriculture but after having talked to many workers in this sectors, stories like ours and much worse seem to be very common…

Kathie and I have compromised with many perhaps to many things while working for this farmer family. Our goals and our own virtues in mind we just kept going no matter what as long as we could. We came to Australia with the idea
already set in out mind to, as quickly as possible find and buy a car – leave the city –
get a job that would provide us with enough work for full-time employment for 3 to 4 month to save up heaps.
This plan worked out but not as smoothly as we had hoped …
farm work australia work and travel jobs
Right from the start we learned that conditions on the farm will be tough. No one really minded to work hard but the way workers were treated by this family were absolutely subhuman. Workers had to pay a fortune for accommodation that was run down and filthy, without drinking water and remote from town. Kathie and I lived in our car and Danny who stayed until he got fired after 4 weeks, camped in a tent in a shack. Each of us had to pay 80$ rent a week for the privilege of living like tramps. I don’t mind living like a tramp but I mind paying for it!
This kind of rental business is of course illegal. It is especially so because it is a condition to get a job! Who wants to work has to stay and pay! Workers have been regularly yelled and shouted at and threatened not to get paid or to get fired.
Racist abuse and discrimination were common against Asian and other foreign workers. On top of all that, they didn’t pay us right! They paid everyone under minimum wages as well as they did not pay overtime etc.
Most of us kept up with it anyway. I guess we ignored a lot of it and released our anger after work.
But the story has a good ending! I got fired after 3 and a half month literally working my ass off, doing honest work no matter how unfair they have treated us.
Two fellow workers got severely verbally abused early in the morning. The farmer threatened them that If they would do one mistake today she will deduct half of their wages and little later continued by yelling that her grandson (who is like 10 years old) works faster than they do. I had enough of this and told her that she couldn’t talk to people in this disrespectful way. Her responds was: “You work and shut up!”
I told her that she should shut up and that was it. Got fired. In her anger she tripped and fell over in the mud to the amusement of everyone else. Later that day we all came together and I told everyone that I would report them to every institution I could possible think of. I spoke to the local police, the local shires office, the town health officer, the community centre in town and last but not least WAGELINE and the DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE. cut a long story short. Everyone on the farm quit their job within 3 days after I got fired and we all left the farm together with a sense of victory and the farmer family outrages. We just laughed and left and prepared to get back at them.
After a number of phone calls and emails and an interview, an investigation was launched and the farming company was forced to pay the correct wages in my case 2500$ reimbursement and they now being regularly visited by an inspector to make sure that they comply with Australian work laws! Justice at last!
My advice is don’t ever look away!  By not acting, working conditions only get worse for you and everybody else! Contacting WAGELINE and the DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE is an easy thing to do and in case of under payment even financially beneficial!


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Endless hours of weeding in pumpkin fields and thinning of apple trees overloaded with apples ready to break apart under its own weight.


Stone fruit harvest. We picked apples, pears, peaches,nectarines, plums and grapes.
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Backbreaking hours of pumpkin harvest we hauled more than 10 tons a day out of the fields.

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After the pumpkins are harvested off the field, they get transported in the packing shed, were they are washed, graded and packed and send off to the markets. Work in the shed was almost exclusively for female workers.
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Selling our produce to the consumer. We would have felt better if the stuff were actually healthy and from sustainable agriculture

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To say the least this farm isn’t exactly what I have in mind of sustainable agriculture. I have learned a lot from having worked there and despite of the hard labour and working conditions have enjoyed much of the time there. I didn’t know much about agriculture before and I still don’t know much but I have gained a lot of knowledge from this experience. Since this farm had so many different crops growing at the same time there was a lot of diversity in the work and since we have stayed most of the growing season we got to do all jobs from sowing to selling.
We were blind for how many chemicals such as pesticides herbicides fungicides and synthetic fertilizer they are using. Over time we realised though. We could see the destruction of the land, the wasteful over consumption of bore water and dams, the heavy wind and water erosion and the pollution from chemicals and over exploitation of the land.
I am grateful for this first hand experience, learning about the dark reality of food production and all its exploitation, destruction, waste and human hardship involved in it.


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Kathie and I stayed in this shack with our car being the bedroom. We had a beautiful view over the land.
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I of course had to plant a small garden. I was not the only one sharing the idea. So we planted a view small garden patches.


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Getting very seriously bogged in mud is all part of the fun! It took us over an hour out and a burned up clutch!

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Summing up our time there. I have loved it! I only got sucked up deeper into the idea of living of the land far from the noise of civilisation. I loved the quiet and peacefulness of country life. We were very isolated for nearly 4 month and it was bloody good! It felt good to wake up early in morning sometimes as early as 04:00 o clock and watch the sun rise over the paddock. It felt good to come home after a day’s honest and direct work. Producing food to feet people. The fruits and vegetables from the farm that we could eat for free, tasted much better with our own labour put into them. To me there is nothing more satisfying but direct work that provides for yourself and others and to watch seeds grow, that you have planted and to harvest its fruit and eat it and share the surplus. It is a goof life!

Next story is our about our journey south it started like this… Our Subaru was ill and needed surgery 

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