Dotted across fields of the Wye valley and the foothills of the Malverns, dense avenues of fruit trees and hops bines dissect the gilded fields of wheat sown across the arable land. Elsewhere, the sun moves over swathes of translucent plastic; inside, rows of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries stretch as far as the eye can see. Waves of sound bounce against the polytunnels: indistinct voices, the tinny acoustics of Balkan music playing from a phone, the rustling of leaves and crates being stacked. Teams of people rush back and forth between plants and trucks picking as they go. On the surface harvest months in rural West Midlands appear bountiful and almost timeless, the epitome of the rural idyll.
However, over the past few years, Brexit has provoked many uncertainties within the agricultural industry, revealing the uneasy relationship between the nation’s reliance on seasonal workers, and growing English nationalism that often draws on nostalgia of the English pastoral, but which bears little resemblance to modern life. With 99% of seasonal staff in the UK migrating from Europe, this project looks to celebrate some of the individuals that sustain an essential industry.
Marco Kesseler’s interest lies in the role of narrative as a reference point in representing contemporary social issues. He works between editorial assignments and long-term projects, taking pride in immersing himself within the place and people that he photographs, working with communities over an extended period of time.