365 days of gratitude

January 11, 2018

A charity was criticised last month for saying it didn’t want tinned tomatoes.

My first reaction was to agree with the critics. I use tinned tomatoes often when fresh aren’t available or too expensive.

But then I realised that while fresh tomatoes are fine by themselves, tinned aren’t.

I never use them alone. I use them to make sauces, soup and dishes like ratatouille.

That requires olive oil, garlic, onions, tomato paste, basil, thyme and oregano, and sometimes capsicums, courgettes and other vegetables; a frying pan and, for larger quantities, a big stock pot.

People who use the charity which turned down the tinned tomatoes probably don’t have the ingredients and pans.

I do and I’m grateful for that.


Word of the day

January 11, 2018

Grumpish – sullen, grumpy, bad tempered; sulky.


Where’s line between exchange and exploitation?

January 11, 2018

An organic farm has been found to have exploited thousands of travellers:

An organic farm near Christchurch was ruled to have breached the rights of workers it said were volunteers by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), following an Inspectorate investigation.

While no records were kept on site at Robinwood Farms Limited, the sole director and shareholder Julia Osselton said that she had over a thousand people travel through her business every year.

“Rather than enjoying a genuine volunteer experience, these people were exploited as free labour for the profit of Ms Osselton’s businesses,” says Labour Inspectorate national manager Stu Lumsden.

“While Ms Osselton claimed that these workers were ‘WWOOFers’ engaged in a cultural and skill based exchange, and not employees, our investigation showed this was clearly not the case.

“It is not acceptable for businesses to attempt to evade their obligations by calling their workers volunteers and simply rewarding them with a bed and some food.

In theory there might be a line between an exchange and exploitation, but it would be difficult to draw it in practice.

If people are working they must be paid at least a minimum wage and if they’re getting accommodation and food, that is probably liable for fringe benefit tax.

“This practice is unfair to businesses that do follow the law and pay their employees, and takes advantage of the good nature of travellers who may not know their employment rights.”

Evidence uncovered on the farm in Tai Tapu showed the so-called ‘volunteers’ were working up to 40 hours per week, often as labour hired out to garden or cut firewood for Ms Osselton’s profit.

They were paid $120 per week in addition to food and accommodation, regardless of hours worked or what work they performed, with a visitors book on site showing many to be from overseas.

This account of the businesses was supported in witness accounts from a New Zealand woman and a Chinese man who both had worked for Robinwood Farms between November and December 2015.

Both said Ms Osselton did not supply them with employment agreements, minimum wage or annual leave for their work. The ERA ruled they were each owed over $2600 in arrears.

A witness statement from another worker provided to the ERA recalled ‘inhumane’ living conditions, where they slept in a small storage room under the stairs without proper ventilation or a heater.

The Inspectorate was also told that food was routinely collected from waste bins at supermarkets before being fed to workers at Robinwood Farms along with spoilt meat.

The ERA already ruled against one of Ms Osslelton’s businesses for her use of volunteers, with more than $20,000 paid to a Spanish man employed by Karamea Holiday Homes Limited.

While penalties to be paid by Robinwood Farms for the breaches are still being discussed, the company could be liable for up to $20,000 per employee per breach.

“Wherever a worker is being rewarded in a business at whatever level, the Labour Inspectorate’s starting position is that these people are employees and minimum employment standards apply.”

Anyone concerned about their employment situation, or the situation of someone they know, should call 0800 20 90 20 where they can report their concerns in a safe environment.

This clears up any doubts about whether WWOOFers are paid workers of not.

If they’re being rewarded for their work in any way they are employees and therefore covered by employment law which requires the payment of minimum wages and adherence to other conditions designed to prevent exploitation.


Thursday’s quiz

January 11, 2018

You’re invited to pose the questions.

Anyone who stumps everyone will win a virtual box of apricots.


Rural round-up

January 11, 2018

Retiring meat industry leader goes farming – Heather Chalmers:

Retiring Anzco founder Sir Graeme Harrison says the meat industry remains in a battle for survival, writes Heather Chalmers.

Life is turning full circle for retiring Anzco Foods founder and chairman Sir Graeme Harrison.

Harrison who has sold his shares in Anzco and steps down as chairman as its annual meeting in March, is now turning his attention to farming. After 34 years with the company he is relaxed about moving on, with the succession plan well signalled.

Again living in Methven, where his family farmed and trained racehorses in his younger days, his new focus is a hill country property with flats at Alford Forest in the Mid-Canterbury foothills. The sheep and beef property is farmed by his daughter and son-in-law Michelle and Daniel Carson, and he intends to take an active role. . . 

Fears tōtara trees could be wiped out on the East Coast – John Boynton:

There are calls for more to be done to save tōtara trees in the Raukumara Forest Park Range from being wiped out by pests.

Possum and deer are killing the ancient native trees and are also causing a decline in the numbers of other native plants and animals in the forest.

The Raukumara Forest Park Range spans 11,000ha across the East Coast of the North Island and consists of dense, isolated and uncompromising terrain.

It has proven to be the perfect breeding ground for possum, deer and red goats which are causing major damage to the forest ecosystem. . .

Nothing sheepish about advocacy on this farm – Owen Roberts:

From the time they graduated (two years apart) from the University of Guelph in the 1990s, through to their current leadership roles in Ontario agriculture, Mark and Sandi Brock have become widely known for their honest and public portrayal of modern farming.  And they’re challenging other producers to join them, to make sure urban Canada is getting the right messages.  

“Agriculture needs to align itself with influencers and stop talking to itself,” Mark says. “We need to be giving unified messages that people are less apt to forget.” . . 

DYNE wins the inaugural Woolmark Prize Innovation Award:

DYNE was today announced the inaugural winner of the 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize Innovation Award, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, led by Future Tech Lab founder/CEO Miroslava Duma and included Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network.

The Innovation Award powered by Future Tech Lab celebrates the collection with the most innovative and creative wool fabrication, process or development and was awarded to the finalist who demonstrated the most exciting approach to help reduce its social and environmental footprint. DYNE will receive $100,000 along with commercial opportunities. . . 

Bodice wins the 2017/18 International Woolmark Prize for women’s wear:

Bodice was today announced the womenswear winner of the 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, including Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Liya Kebede, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network: Boutique 1, Boon The Shop, David Jones, Harvey Nichols, Hudson’s Bay, Lane Crawford, L’Eclaireur, mytheresa.com, ORDRE, Parlour X, Ssense.com, Sugar and Tata CLiQ Luxury.

Representing India, Pakistan and the Middle East, Bodice was selected as the womenswear winner, praised for technique and the manufacturing process. Inspired by her grandmother who used to upcycle saris into quilts, Bodice addressed the issue of consumer waste in fashion with traditional techniques of recycling and cultural beliefs in the spiritual power of cloth to affect our wellbeing.  . . 

Matthew Miller wins the 2017/19 International Woolmark Prize for men’s wear:

Matthew Miller was today announced the menswear winner of the menswear 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, including Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Liya Kebede, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network.

For Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief Emanuele Farneti, Matthew Miller presented a well-balanced collection, with attractive price points. “He showed a good combination between innovation, commercial viability and pieces which will be worn by men on the street.” . . 

So what do Canadian farmers do in winter? – Jake Leguee:

Today is winter solstice—the darkest day of the year.

Here in southeast Saskatchewan, where my family farms, we’ll see about eight hours of daylight. The sun rises a little before 9 am and sets around 5 pm, local time.

It raises a question that I sometimes hear from friends who don’t work in agriculture: What do crop farmers do all winter?

 

Teachers sometimes joke that they went into education for three reasons: June, July, and August. There’s a similar gag in farming: Our seasons are April, August, and Arizona.

As much as I wish I could boast about relaxing all winter by the pool in Phoenix or Tucson, the truth is that I work on my farm year-round—even during the winter, when the nights are longer than the days.

The job of a farmer never ends. . .


When I rule the world

January 11, 2018

When I rule the world*, people who wish to put pens in their shirt pockets will have to undergo training to ensure they always  remove the pen before the shirt goes in the wash.

Only when the pen-removal becomes automatic will they be permitted to wear shirts with pockets.

Anyone who slips up and leaves a pen in their pocket will be required to undergo re-training.

*Accepting that we’ve achieved global health and happiness.


Quote of the day

January 11, 2018

When you put your hand to the plow, you can’t put it down until you get to the end of the row. – Alice Paul who ws born on this day in 1885.


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