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Natalia Jachimowicz answers 11 questions regarding Mushroom Harvesting

UMDIS PARTNERS

This post is also available in: English Polish

PO POLSKU TU

On September 11-13 Courses on Mushroom Harvesting with TOP-trainer from Canada take place at Mirek Jachimowicz’s farm Wierzbno in Poland. Mushroom producers from different countries regisetred for the Courses 

In anticipation of the courses, we asked Natalia Jachimowicz 11 questions about the farm and the organization of picking. Can you briefly describe the organization of mushroom picking at your farm – how many people directly pick mushrooms, how many supervisors, is there a separate harvesting coordinator, who makes the forecast and what forecasts do you make at your farm. Who trains the pickers? 

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The mushroom farm consists of 60 cultivation halls, 30 with an area of 540 m2 and 30 with an area of 580 m2. We work on a 6-week cycle, i.e. 10 halls are filled per week, so we have 10 first breaks per week, 10 second and 10 third breaks. There are approximately 140 pickers working on the facility, divided into teams of 9 and 10 people. Nine-person teams in halls with an area of 540 m, 10-person teams in halls with an area of 580 m. 

The harvesting is supervised by 6 people, including one who specializes in training harvesters. Harvest forecasts are prepared daily and, additionally, approximately once a week. 

How many of them are foreigners and how many are local. What is the trend? 

50% of our staff are foreigners, of which about 80% are Ukrainians. Unfortunately, we are losing local workers all the time. 

How is the motivation system built for those involved in mushroom picking? What motivation tools are used besides money? How are the results of work evaluated? 

The pickers’ work is settled on a piecework basis. Based on the harvest results from the halls, every month we publish a ranking of the group that grew the highest yield per square meter and obtain the highest percentage of export-quality mushrooms. 

The results are published so that the best group not only has the best financial result but also the satisfaction of being a leader. The basis of our motivation system is feedback for the picker, weekly information on the speed of harvesting and monthly information on the amount of mushrooms grown. 

How long is the “test” period for a new picker – the time during which you understand that the picker is right for you, and he/she understands that this job is right for him/her? 

The training period for a new picker is two weeks, during which we try to learn and recognize preferences. If the results are promising, this time is sometimes extended to a month. 

How many new pickers should be found per year and how do you do it? What are the most common reasons why pickers leave? 

We conduct continuous, year-round recruitment. The most common reason people leave is the constant search for new opportunities. The labor market is becoming more and more dynamic, creating many prospects for employees and causing an increasing turnover among the staff. The mushroom farm is located 60 km from the capital of Poland, we compete not only with the local labor market but also with the European one. 

 Do you pay attention when hiring pickers – men or women? 

When employing pickers, we prefer mainly women, they are much more effective in our plant. 

When we were at your farm, we got the impression that the farm team is friendly not only among themselves, but also with the management and owners of the farm. Is this true, and do not close relations with the pickers interfere with the need to punish or even dismiss? 

The farm is a family business and we also transfer relationships from the management to the staff, which of course complicates the work a bit and sometimes creates difficult situations. However, in the long term, thanks to this we have managed to build a company with a good reputation on the labor market, we have much lower turnover. Employees who have tried work in other plants often come back to us. 

Everything is fine with the harvesting on your farm. And what are the main mistakes you see in others or what are you afraid to make? 

The main problems on the farm are, of course, employee turnover, constant training of new employees and an increasingly demanding market that forces us to constantly raise quality standards. 

If you were building a new farm right now, what would you do wrong in terms of organization of harvesting or technical equipment (what relevant to harvesting).  

When building a new farm, the economics of mushroom cultivation and the harvesting process are becoming more and more important. There is a tendency to build larger and larger cultivation halls, the area at the moment is not 500,600, but rather 800-900 m2, which of course translates into lower unit costs. When investing in technology, it is important to take into account the impact on the natural environment, which also means lower energy consumption, the use of new technological solutions – photovoltaic heat pumps, which is not new to us, because we have been operating in this technology for 20 years. 

Maybe you have some kind of mission? 

Our operating philosophy is satisfaction with our work and that of our crew. Our mission is to deliver the best quality mushrooms to our customers. 

What mushroom harvesting innovations over the past decade have brought the best results? 

The most important improvement in recent years is the introduction of selective harvesting. 

To ask questions regarding Harvesting courses on 11-13 of September +48577253132 (WhatsApp).To ask questions regarding Harvesting courses on 11-13 of September +48577253132 (WhatsApp).[ad id=”38165″]

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