Typical Roles at an Orchard

Large, industrialized orchards will require dedicated retail associates and laborers to maintain the trees. These operations will require a general manager who oversees the retail staff and handles customer issues. Some orchards (particularly apple orchards) expand their retail operations during the fall, offering donuts, apple cider, and hayrides.

General Manager

The general manager oversees the operations of the business and manages staff, scheduling, and logistics. They are commonly the owner of the orchard.

Salary: $50,000

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Hire and schedule staff
  • Oversee the care of trees
  • Marketing and community outreach

Who to Look For:

  • Experience managing people
  • Knowledge of the trees grown
  • Landscaping experience

Retail Associate

A retail associate engages with customers and processes sales. They should be friendly and knowledgeable about the orchard’s offerings so that they can advise customers.

Typical Salary: $10/hr

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Greeting customers and processing sales
  • Answering questions about the orchard’s products

What to look for:

  • Friendly and outgoing personality
  • Comfortable completing sales and talking to customers
  • Knowledgeable about the trees and products


A laborer maintains the trees and landscaping in the orchard.

Typical Salary: $11/hr

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Weeding, pruning, planting
  • Mowing lawns and paths
  • Watering and fertilizing the trees
  • Working in all weather conditions

What to look for:

  • Capable of lifting heavy loads and standing for extended periods of time
  • Knowledge of gardening or landscaping a plus

Orchard Hiring Tips

Hiring employees can seem like a nerve-wracking process, but it doesn't have to be. We break the process down into four basic steps: (1) Planning; (2) Recruiting; (3) Interviewing; and (4) Completing the Hire. Here are some tips for each phase of the process

Plan to Staff Your Business

Staffing requirements for an orchard scale with the size of the business. If you’re starting a small orchard, then the owner may be able to take over management responsibility and will only need to hire retail staff and laborers. Larger operations will require more laborers and retail staff, as well as managers. For these businesses, a general manager (which could be the owner) may hire a foreman to manage the grounds maintenance, freeing them up to focus on the business aspects such as marketing, staffing, and finances.

Many entry-level jobs will be seasonal, and your orchard may hire many workers during the harvest season, then downsize during the off-season. Apple orchards in particular may offer more retail products like hayrides and apple picking, so the retail staff will expand every fall. Many orchards will hire seasonal workers who are under 18.

Since trees produce fruit for many years, new trees are rarely planted, and most jobs at the orchard center around maintaining the existing trees and harvesting the fruit. Some types of trees are more labor intensive than others, depending on the amount of thinning, training, and frequency of harvesting that they require. For example, fruit trees typically have a higher labor requirement than nut trees (which are mechanically harvested). Orchards with on-site processing machinery will require staff to operate the juicing or pulping equipment as appropriate.

Develop a Recruiting Strategy

Orchards can hire workers through normal channels, such as online job boards, or community flyers posted around town. Community outreach events (such as educational classes that teach people about caring for trees) can be useful tools for increasing the business’s presence in the community. Other community-focused approaches could involve local farmers markets or food co-ops. All of these events advertise your business to local customers who would probably already be interested in your trees, and can attract people interested in working for you.

Interview with Confidence

If you take your time during the planning and recruiting phases of the process, you will likely end up with many qualified candidates.

Nonetheless, it is natural for a new business owner to be a bit anxious the first time hiring employees. Don’t forget that the interview is just a chance to get to know an applicant and to give them an opportunity to learn more about the role and the business. Also, it might help to remember that they are probably even more nervous than you are!

Throughout the interview process, it may help to keep in mind that most orchards look for employees who are:

  • Knowledgeable about trees and landscaping
  • Interested in working outdoors

Here are some sample interview questions that will help you learn more about the character of your interviewees:

  • Have you gardened before?
  • Tell me about a frustrating retail experience. How did you handle it?

Be Familiar with Hiring Laws

After selecting a job candidate, there are certain steps you will need to follow to complete the hiring process. Check out our Hiring Compliance Checklist for a step-by-step guide to the legal aspects of hiring employees.

One of the most important steps is to classify your new hire as an employee or an independent contractor. Become familiar with IRS guidelines on this matter, as there are serious consequences for misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor.

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For more details, please refer to our guide on the topic, Contractors vs. Employees: What You Need to Know. We also provide templates for the essential hiring forms you will need.

Set Up Payroll

Once you have a growing team of employees, it's time to set up your payroll. Using a payroll service provider saves you time for running your business, and also helps ensure that you comply with important federal requirements such as employee tax withholding.

To help our readers save money and grow their business, we negotiated a 20% discount for you with payroll provider ADP, the most popular small business provider in the country.

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Try ADP and get 20% off payroll services for your business.

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