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Repurposing festival resources to feed the UK

Currently the UK is short of around 90,000 people to pick the crops that are growing ripe across the country. Agricultural migrant workers who usually fill these positions are unable to leave their countries due to suspended flights or full lock-down. Asparagus tomatoes, strawberries, and lettuce are few among the many fruits and veg growing ripe from now through to May—they will rot and they disappear from the markets if we don’t organize quickly.

Glastonbury, Download and All Points East join dozens of festivals recently cancelled in the UK due to government issued restrictions caused by COVID-19. While these cancellations are devastating for festival organizers, artists and attendees alike, there may be a window of opportunity to utilize festival’s resources and audiences to save crops and serve the more vulnerable population. We are urging festivals to consider using their outreach and organisational capabilities to scout attendees and set up “farming festivals” in places that desperately need help.

There are millions of young people living in the UK that are healthy and temporarily unemployed yet totally unaware of this pressing issue. If festivals were to step up right now, lending resources to the farms and recruiting from their network of attendees to help save this food, that would be an act of heroism.  “We need to mobilize the British workforce to fill that gap and make sure our excellent fruit and vegetables are on people’s plates over the summer months.” 1


The British Summer Fruits website carries an interactive map showing the locations of farms around the UK and the jobs on offer.

1 Doward, Jamie. “Fruit and Veg 'Will Run out' Unless Britain Charters Planes to Fly in Farm Workers from Eastern Europe.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 28 Mar. 2020,

Project co-ordinator Jane Elliott 07768 307348

Association of Festival Organisers (AFO): 16th Apr 2020 13:40:00

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