ReROOT Output

Pop-up exhibition reveals hidden rituals of seasonal workers in Haspengouw fruit cultivation

In the heart of Haspengouw, as the blossoms emerge, the significance of fruit cultivation becomes increasingly vital for the region’s history, nature, culture, and community. However, the world of seasonal laborers remains largely unseen and unspoken in Belgium. In regions like Haspengouw, people from various countries converge to work during harvest, pruning, sorting, and packaging. For those who come to work in Haspengouw, seasonal labor serves different purposes and goals. Yet, the uncertainty in horticulture, language barriers, long physical workdays, and relative isolation on fruit plantations make it challenging to establish a stable livelihood.

This pop-up exhibition, hosted at the Guvelingen church in Sint-Truiden, sheds light on the convergence of people, customs, labor, and agricultural products. It does so from the perspective of these temporary newcomers. Through photos, stories, audio, and objects related to new agricultural rituals, the exhibition intertwines the interconnected narratives of European agriculture and migration. Carolien Lubberhuizen, from the University of Utrecht and KU Leuven, conducted fieldwork while working in fruit plantations, observing how these newcomers navigate their paths after arrival. She also explored cities and rural communities in Romania and Moldova, witnessing the impact of migration and industrialization on agriculture.

The exhibition runs until May 17th, providing a unique glimpse into the hidden world of seasonal laborers and their contributions to the rich tapestry of European farming and heritage.
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