Volunteers sought to help alpine farmers

Switzerland’s Alpine farmers are suffering from a lack of volunteers from the EU due to closed borders.

The Catholic charity Caritas has appealed for 1,000 volunteers to see them through the rough patch. There’s a lot to do – milking cows, making hay, raking stones, chopping wood and fixing fences. The farmers are offering a rich learning experience against a backdrop of pristine Alpine scenery. Caritas often intervenes to help farmers in need. Volunteers, often from abroad, can opt to work on farms with particularly low incomes. But because of Covid-19, only one third of the normal potential volunteer pool is available this year. The borders are set to open in mid-June but it is unclear how many foreign volunteers will be free to help. Beatrice Klaus, who’s normally employed as a passenger assistant at Zurich Airport, volunteered as she doesn’t have much work at the moment. She travelled to Alp Ruodsperri above Melchtal in canton Obwalden to help farmers Res and Karin Gasser. She says it’s hard physical graft but very rewarding.

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