Coffs Coast university students say blueberry picking helps support their studies

James Bhorla and Tarun Mills enjoy picking berries for Costa at Corindi.

 

UNIVERSITY students Tarun Mills and James Bhorla, say picking blueberries over the summer break is the perfect way to earn extra money to fund their studies.

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Amidst calls for wide reform of the blueberry industry’s piece pay rates and labour hire practices in Coffs Harbour and surrounds, Tarun and James are repeat annual pickers, who say the work is a legitimate way to make good holiday money.

Tarun, who grew up in Woolgoolga, has just finished his fourth year in medicine at the University of New South Wales and is now in his third harvest season at Costa Berries picking blueberries in Corindi.

“I started picking here in the 2017 summer holidays.

“I don’t have a lot of time to work when I’m at uni so this is a good opportunity to earn money,” he said.

“It’s a great environment to meet lots of people,” Tarun added.

“When I first started it was hard work, but you can make decent money,” Tarun said.

“You have it put the effort in but it’s definitely worth it. The environment is really good here.

“I like working outside and working with my hands which I don’t get to do when I’m at uni,” he said.

Tarun said the holiday job helped support him throughout the year.

“I was hoping to come back for one more season, but I’ll be doing a placement next year so this might be my last one unfortunately,” he said.

James Bhorla, who also went to Woolgoolga High School, has just finished his third year studying radiography at the University of Newcastle.

This is his fourth season picking at Costa.

“Doing uni you don’t get much time during the year so it’s difficult to get a job.

“Working here means I also get to come home,” he said.

“You get to be outside and active and you get to meet really interesting people and learn about their experiences.
“It’s pretty fun.”

James said the flexibility also enabled him to work around uni placements and being paid according to how much you pick was motivating.

“It’s a good amount of pay to get you through the year.

“It is just a really good experience and I would encourage people to give it a go,” he said.

 

By Sandra MOON

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