Welcome to The International Farm Camp
A working holiday at the International Farm Camp, Tiptree, will give you the opportunity to learn the language and meet people.
Over the years tens of thousands of participants have spent enjoyable holidays here helping with our fruit harvest. Many of them have managed to save sufficient money during their stay to enable them to travel in the United Kingdom afterwards and see some of its beauty and history before returning home.
If you would like to apply to work at Tiptree (and have read the check list thoroughly) please send your details here firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about a working holiday at Tiptree, and what you MUST do to apply, please work through our check list.
Age limit: 18+ years.
No one below this age limit will be accepted. The Camp is about 80 km from London and has conveniences including flush sanitation, hot and cold showers, hand basins, drying rooms, ironing rooms and washing machines. Sleeping accommodation is in caravans. Each caravan has a kitchen and bathroom. There are only a small number of double beds available. All buildings are strictly non-smoking. Camp entertainment includes table tennis, snooker, a football field, wireless internet access, television and a small gym. Subject to work-load and demand, excursions are arranged at weekends during the season to places of interest.
It is only possible to stay in the Camp on a self-catering basis for which the charge is £52.85 per week. Please note that this amount is inclusive of accommodation and some utilities such as water, sewage, laundry, Wi-Fi and reasonable gas and electricity use. On arrival each caravan will be provided with 47 kgs of gas, refills are available at a cost of £60 each which you will need to purchase with cash from your net earnings if required – you are at liberty to purchase gas independetly from any other registered supplier should you choose. A monthly allowance of £2.50 / person for electricity is made. Additional units may be bought with cash from net earnings at a cost of £0.10 / unit, you are also free to make your own alternative arrangement through a registered supplier should you choose. Facility fees are payable weekly in arrears and no reduction can be made if you do not stay in the Camp for the complete week. The Camp week runs from Monday to Sunday. No rebate on boarding fees can be given should you arrive late.
There is a resident Co-ordinator in charge of the Camp who is responsible for your welfare, and who will be pleased to help should you experience any problems. In order that life in the Camp may run smoothly you will be expected to comply with the few simple rules which are printed on the back of the booking form.
You are expected to keep the camp clean and tidy throughout your stay and to adhere to our Health and Safety protocols which will be posted on the main camp notice board.
The Camp is open from the 1st of May.
The main work through the season will be fruit picking, but at certain times you may be offered alternative work either on our farm or in our pack house. These jobs are used to fill in time between the ripening of different crops and in the event of adverse weather, dates will fluctuate from year to year.
Once our peak season is finished (usually mid July), if there is not enough work available for all participants on our farm, every effort will be made to transfer you to work with another farm.
Please adhere to the dates stated on your application form, do not ask for other dates as the Camp will be fully booked except for the dates stated.
Rates of Pay
Fruit is usually picked on piece-work, generally speaking the more you pick - the more you earn, for which payment is made weekly in arrears. The rates offered are governed by the amount of ripe fruit available and are exactly the same as those paid to local pickers who also work on the farm. Earnings depend on the effort and ability of the individual, many participants who are prepared to work hard and acquire the necessary skill earn well in excess of the national minimum wage. Where harvest work is hourly paid it is at a rate which is specified by the U.K. Government, currently £8.21/hr and an overtime rate of £10.26/hr after 48hrs work. Please note that there will only be limited opportunities to work overtime.
Owing to new regulations covering rates of pay, it is essential that you achieve a set standard of productivity (which will be advised daily); otherwise we will not be able to employ you. Work is usually available between 08.30 and 16.30 Mondays to Fridays. Typically your working day will be 8 hours (7 hours on a Friday) although at certain stages during the season you will be required to work overtime on Saturdays and Sundays and on other occasions your hours may be less than 39. There may be the opportunity to work some early mornings and weekends. It is important to remember that crop yields and ripening dates are largely determined by the weather, which is unpredictable and can on occasions make work loads unpredictable.
How To Apply
Please send an email with your C.V. and motivation letter to email@example.com or in writing to: THE ORGANISER, INTERNATIONAL FARM CAMP, HALL ROAD, TIPTREE, ESSEX. CO5 OQS. ENGLAND.
Due to the high number of enquiries, please note, that if you are unsucessful you may not receive any response from us, but if you are sucessful we will contact you and send you the relevant paperwork.
Note: Places are not reserved until the completed and signed application form and full deposit have been received by the Organiser.
An accommodation security deposit of £100 must be sent with each application, of which all will be refunded on completion of your stay subject to leaving the camp and your accommodation in a satisfactory condition.
You will be sent written confirmation that a place has been allocated to you. Applications may be declined without explanation. You are expected to stay in the camp for the whole harvest period.
What you must bring with you
- Knife, fork and spoon.
- 1 Large Saucepan for cooking in.
- Mug and two large plates.
- Old working clothes and gloves.
- Heavy boots or shoes.
- Rubber boots.
- Towel and toilet requisites.
- Thick pullover and warm clothes.
- Warm Sleeping bag or sheets.
- Passport & National Identity Card.
- Money (about £100 is recommended).
Where possible we like to encourage participants with a particular interest in Agriculture or Horticulture in their home country – please note on your application if this is applicable.
Participants coming to the camp must be in good health and should be up to date with current vaccinations. On departure all participants MUST leave a forwarding address.
All participants are advised to have a personal insurance policy to cover themselves against loss or theft of belongings as well as personal accident. Under no circumstances can the International Farm Camp management or its servants or agents accept any liability for any loss or damage to property of any description. In the event of illness you will be liable for the cost of any medicines etc. Please ensure you have had up to date Tetanus & TB vaccinations before entry to the UK.
Please remember that this is a farm camp. Work and living conditions can be hard, and may not suit everyone, but if you are able to mix well with your fellow participants you can have an excellent working holiday, as have many participants who have returned for successive years. The UK weather is very unpredictable, it can be wet and cold – please be prepared!
Please ensure you bring a current passport, without this we will be unable to open a bank account for you or register you for National Insurance purposes.
Payment of refundable accomodation deposit
(£100 - accomodation damage deposit)
Payment can be made by any one of the following methods:
- (a) Bank Transfer.
- (b) Postal Giro.
- (c) International Bank cheque.
- (d) Bank International Money Order.
All payments must be made to Wilkin & Sons Ltd. Bank details will be provided to the successful applicants with the application form.
If you are booking together with friends you can save on bank charges by making one payment for yourself and your friends, but the names of all those booking must be stated on the payment advice.
Cheques must be made in Sterling and all bank charges are to be paid by the sender.
The Tiptree Farms
Wilkins have farmed in Tiptree for almost 300 years.
Farmers have to think long-term, suffering bad years with good grace, in return for better years with plentiful crops and the finest English fruits that have slowly ripened in the warmth of the Essex countryside.
Today, the farms cover 850 acres. That’s enough land for around 300 cricket pitches, or 450 baseball grounds. As more imported fruits become available and fruit seasons are extended, English farmers are moving away from fruit to more lucrative crops. Wilkin and Sons take a contrary view, growing more fruit at Tiptree now than ever before. It costs more, but the control it gives us over quality is worth the premium.
Strawberries are just one example of Tiptree thinking: modern varieties may have more consistent shape, size and colour, but Tiptree strawberries are grown for their flavour and texture. Tiny, intensely flavoured Little Scarlets are grown entirely on the ‘Tiptree’ farms and always used fresh within hours of picking. Wilkin and Sons may well be the only large-scale growers of this wonderful strawberry anywhere in the world.
The weather plays a big part in determining yield and flavour. Late frosts can destroy the blossom overnight and every blossom left on the ground is another fruit lost. Ideally there will be plenty of light rain and lots of warm (but not hot!) sunshine to ripen the fruit to perfection.
Almost predictably for such an unusual business, Tiptree takes an unorthodox approach to farming. The arable crops needed for rotation with the fruit are tended by neighbouring farmers whilst Wilkin and Sons stick to what they do best – growing fruit. They grow all the most popular fruits such as strawberries, plums and cherries but they also grow medlars, quinces, damsons and mulberries. The mulberry orchard was planted before jam-making began at Tiptree and a young tree can take up to twenty-five years to bear fruit. Now that does require long-term thinking and commitment!
The ‘Tiptree’ farm grows Timperley Early rhubarb and here’s a thing: rhubarb isn’t a fruit, it’s a vegetable, but still allowed to be used in jam-making. Just imagine - vegetable crumble! That brings to mind another strange fact: the strawberry is not truly a fruit either.
Unorthodox thinking extends to inviting others to enjoy the countryside too. Public footpaths criss-cross the fields and one of the farm tracks is open to visitors with signs to explain what’s happening and what to look out for. All Tiptree asks is that visitors, respect the countryside and keep off the crops.
The environment is in the news a lot these days. Here too, Tiptree is at the forefront, farming to LEAF (Linking the Environment and Farming) standards. Underground micro-irrigation systems ensure water isn’t wasted (in some fields that means that each plant is drip-fed water, controlled by Andrey via his iphone). We’re currently experimenting with so-called ‘table top’ strawberries, grown at waist height so they’re easy to tend and pick. Pipes and energy cables run under the fields and reservoirs recycle water used for jam-making and rainwater for use during the drier months.
Each year, the ‘Tiptree’ farms welcome visitors to Open Farm Sunday. It’s a chance to meet the farmer, take a guided tour of the farms and try some of the produce that’s grown in and around the Essex village of Tiptree. Up to 4,000 people come along for that treat and at the height of the season, there’s The Strawberry Race: pickers compete to collect the most top quality fruit in one hour, with proceeds from the event going to charity. Often sports and TV personalities such as Tom Chambers, Vicky Michelle and Jimmy Doherty join in the fun.
New for 2012, the farms have become part of a nationwide scheme to use farms as an educational facility, explaining in easy terms about the countryside and why it’s important for our future. There’s also a fruit collection at Tiptree, with many different kinds of tree fruit including more unusual fruits for this region, such as apricots and peaches. An adopt-a-tree scheme is planned to encourage families to engage with and visit the countryside.
Look out for the fast-growing tractor and farm implement displays when you visit Tiptree. The County 4WD tractor is rather special and spent almost the whole of its working life on the Tiptree farms, doing the heavy work that was too much for the grey Fergies (TE20s) that were used for half a century. Take a look at the grey Fergies on display and try to work out how they were started without a key – it’s a novel idea, brought about by Harry Ferguson almost being run over one day by a tractor being started.
An earlier farm life
Like most types of agriculture, fruit farming can be a tough life; easier today than it was, but still demanding of hardy types to put up with the lazy Essex winds (they blow through you rather than going round). Farm workers sometimes had plastic bread bags over their socks to keep out the cold and damp that permeated even the newest Wellington boots. Hand-pruning the fruit trees took the whole winter. Standing in a bleak, grey orchard in a snowstorm is a harsh way to earn a living but by springtime, when the uniform rows of neatly shaped trees are swathed in white blossom, it is immensely satisfying.
At the coldest times, the mid-morning break could not come soon enough. Farm workers would huddle together, sheltering in ditches from the driving wind and rain. When it snowed so much that none could stay out in the fields, they were allowed into the warmth of the jam factory to help wash and prepare fresh Seville oranges, delivered overland from Spain ready for the marmalade season.
In the summer months, the fruit pickers descend on the farm and the fields are splashed with their bright and colourful clothing. Fruit picking required dextrous hands and strawberry picking especially can be back-breaking work. Often the pickers are in the fields by six o’clock in the morning and work late into the afternoon.
By early evening the caravanners are back at their site, enjoying the last of the sunshine and the companionship that comes from twenty or even more years, returning to help with the Tiptree fruit harvest. In the nearby International Farm Camp, overseas students relax with a cold beer or a game of football, Bulgaria v Romania tonight! Foreign students have been visiting Tiptree since the early 1950s so the village has become accustomed to their arrival in spring and the sense of anticipation they bring for the summer season to come.
Fruit Farming is Serious Business
At times difficult, often frustrating but always ultimately satisfying, life in Tiptree without fruit farming is practically unthinkable. Today, the farm grows fruit not only for the preserve-making business but also has a blossoming trade in fresh and frozen fruit for shops.
The range of different fruits and fruit varieties is growing all the time as ‘Tiptree’ experiments with ways to get the best from the land. Experimental ideas are adopted and there is clear recognition that farming, in sympathy with the countryside can make good sense – broad headlands, newly planted hedges and wild-flower meadows all have a part to play in the success of fruit growing at Tiptree.
In 2011 a whole field was planted with sea buckthorn bushes to find out if this fashionable new ‘superfruit’ will bring added benefits to the farm and to the fruit preserving side of the business. Right next to this new plantation is a field of Little Scarlet strawberries, the fruit just as it would have been 125 years ago in Arthur Charles Wilkin’s day. That’s progress.