“Die spargelzeit” : It is the sacred season of asparagus in Germany. It lasts only three months, from April to June, and exists in particular thanks to the Romanian seasonal workers who come every year to harvest thousands of tons of white tips.
“Normally, they come by bus or car”, explains Jakob Jürgen, one of the ten largest producers in Germany, based in Brandenburg in Beelitz, some 50 km from Berlin. But this year, no bus, no car, the asparagus season started when Europe closed its borders in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
So we had to innovate. German producers have obtained permission from their government to organize a special airlift. “It was really expensive, deplores Jakob Jürgen, 50,000 euros per flight, but without that we would not have had workers here“The Romanian and Polish seasonal workers have therefore finally arrived, applauded even by the German extreme right. From 6 o'clock in the morning, their curved silhouettes stand out across the 250 hectares of field of Jakob Jürgen. They dig, gather, then quickly cover the earth with a tarp under an icy wind.
This year, more apartments had to be rented to comply with sanitary rules. No more than three workers per accommodation, when they could live to six in a 45m² last year. We also had to increase the number of bus rotations, which can only bring in 15 workers each time compared to 50 previously. A complicated year therefore, but it is the price for Jakob Jürgen to save his farm and for the Germans to celebrate the feast of asparagus.