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Back to the news list The Hawke's Bay orchard that started a programme t
13 February 2020 - Media Release - HB Today

Hawke's Bay's Crista Gibson would go to job interviews and could almost hear the penny drop when she told them she was a solo mum.

Then she found an apple-picking quality-control programme that actively seeks them out.

Hawke's Bay orchard Johnny Appleseed trialled a system of hiring six solo parents through their work with Work and Income, which helped set up the programme in 2019.

Johnny Appleseed operations manager Miles Hales said the system had been a big success and one the company has renewed this year.

Johnny Appleseed covers orchard operations of the Yummyfruit Company, which covers the overall marketing of the fruit produced.

"We started with six and a few dropped off early and others through the year but Crista has stayed on and is a great addition," he said.

"She is even training the new group that is coming through this year and showing them the ropes."

Hales said the company employs them as QCs (quality control) to check the condition of the fruit.

"It's hard for these people to find jobs that help them and benefit their families, so having these roles we can support them and make sure they have the opportunity to get back in the workforce as well as still being able to easily be there for their children."

At the moment they have employed six solo parents for the new year, four women and two men, with Gibson making seven.

Johnny Appleseed operations manager Miles Hales said he is pleased to be able to offer jobs to solo parents who want and need the work. Photo / Duncan Brown
Johnny Appleseed operations manager Miles Hales said he is pleased to be able to offer jobs to solo parents who want and need the work. Photo / Duncan Brown

Gibson said she had enjoyed every moment of it, and had gone from feeling excluded by society, to included.

"I would go for interviews at a café and as soon as I said I'm a single parent they would disregard me straight away because it means you need a lot of time off because kids get sick.

"But in the year I've been here I've only had two days off to look after my kids."

On top of caring for two children (aged 4 and 5 years) she is now training the new group of solo parents that have joined the programme.

"It's very exciting but I'm a little nervous as well. But the company here is great, as well as the people."

Hales said that he hopes other companies jump on board as he believes that the system benefits not only solo parents but the companies employing them as well.

"We're all about family and so are these solo parents and that doesn't change how they work - what we do is help support them so that they can."

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