Caught in the act – bunching onions

Could it be the best job I have ever had?

Don’t let my boss know that. But when the sun is shining and the workers are out in the fields, I get out of the office and start shooting (I usually work in the office dealing with all things technical and creative on the computer). I must admit I am a bit of a fair weather photographer, mainly because that’s the time when I will get the best pictures. Early morning and before home time is when the light is at its best.

I arrive at the entrance to a field I have never been to before, where I was told I would find a small army picking spring onions or bunched onions (I haven’t quite worked out the difference yet) for the vegboxes. It’s actually a minute’s walk from Guy’s house… maybe he likes to look out of the window and see people working hard in the fields. I discover that just as I have arrived, everyone’s on a 20 minute break. Typical timing by me. I feel slightly bad, as this is really the first thing I am about to do for the day, and all these people have been working so hard and started so early that they need a break already.

It does however give me a bit of time to decide where to shoot from and to get some shots of people on their break – it is part of the working day after all. I try to work out what the stacks of boxes are at different points around the field, and why there are green leaves piled randomly along the rows. Crates are huddled together with more scattered alongside. It all clicks into place when the field workers return to their jobs. Some are pulling the onions, dead leafing while they go and putting them into crates. Some are sitting on crates bunching and elastic banding, and then chopping the tops off nice and neat with a flick of the wrist and a very sharp knife. Then back into the crates, piled at intervals, to be loaded onto the tractor and vanned

back to the farm and into the cold store to go into the boxes for the next day.
I ask how much they have to do, as the field is pretty big and progress looks painfully slow. “80 crates – we’ll be here all day.” comes the response. I am not wearing one, but I take my hat off to these guys and girls. They even have to carry on working when it rains. I am afraid I am yet to capture that shot.

Martin Ellis

3 responses to “Caught in the act – bunching onions

  1. I am not a costomer of riverford as I live in Ireland. But I like to look at this site quite often. I enjoy the photos of the farm work and would like to see more. I have a deep admiration for the field workers. It is nice to a little of this work sometimes, but to do it all the time is tough.

  2. Piotr Kędzierski

    I am very proud of people who work hard for thef arm’s good. I want to send my regards to all workers and particulary my wife Monika. I ask for more photographs of the farm.

  3. Awesome issues here. I’m very satisfied to peer your article.
    Thanks a lot and I am looking forward to touch you. Will you kindly
    drop me a mail?

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