13 April 2023

Jugiong's Twitter jam is the ultimate example of social media idiocy

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Long Track Pantry

Long Track Pantry in Jugiong: Twitter warriors have relished putting the jam factory in a pickle. Photo: Long Track Pantry.

Many Canberrans are fond of a stopover in Jugiong, the little community that’s turned itself into a chic foodie destination (admittedly somewhat to the surprise of these of us who live within coo-ee).

After the Hume Highway diversion went through, the picturesque village became a pleasant lunch destination for an upmarket pub meal at the Sir George, a riverside picnic on the Murrumbidgee or a foodie forage at the Long Track Pantry.

So perhaps many will have been scratching their heads over the weekend’s uproar on Twitter where allegations of forced child labour over the jam pots emerged.

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It all began with a cheery story from the ABC discussing the lack of staff in the bush. The solution for the Long Track Pantry’s owners, a family who have lived in the area for generations, was to offer local kids a job at award rates and conditions.

This is within the law in NSW, where children aged 12 and under can get a tax file number if a parent or guardian signs on their behalf. At the Long Track, the kids are onboarded with training programs, work with strict safety requirements and under supervision devised by staff members, some of whom have teaching backgrounds.

Cue hysteria on Twitter, allegations of exploitation and huffing and puffing along the lines of “I will never buy their delicious raspberry and white peach jam again for $12.50 a jar now that I know how they make it”.

The ultimate nonsensical weapon – one-star Google reviews – was then deployed.

jar of jam

Plum and Passionfruit jam from the Long Track Pantry ($10.90 – in case you were wondering). Photo: Long Track Pantry.

If ever there was a demonstration of the proposition that Twitter can be full of idiots, this would be it.

Will these tweeters rigorously abstain from reading any newspaper hurled onto their lawns by a ten year old on a bike? Will they refuse to pay kids serving in their parents’ corner shop on the weekends? How about children helping their dads cut firewood for sale, or running lemonade stalls, or delivering for their local chemist?

How do they think kids save up for new bikes – or whatever they want – and work to get them?

Child labour laws are in place for good reason. No child should be exploited through long hours that interfere with their educational opportunities or put them in danger.

But that really does not seem to be happening in the Jugiong jam factory. Instead, many local farm and village children who are already well used to collecting the eggs, turning the pump on, mustering sheep and feeding the working dogs are getting paid a fair wage ($20 per hour plus super, according to one mum) for well-supervised, straightforward and useful tasks.

In doing so, they’re also helping build their local community, a role that’s little understood by urban social media warriors. Creating work keeps families in place. Employment opportunities mean schools continue to operate, shops stay open and communities flourish.

Anyone from the bush knows how much it hurts when the petrol station disappears, the pub is in peril and your kids are on an hour-and-a-half school bus ride to town instead of a 10-minute drive down the road. Jugiong has built a thriving local economy on the back of clever, resourceful local businesses like the Long Track Pantry. The community deserves congratulations for reversing those threats.

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Work is not just an opportunity. It confers dignity and responsibility on people. It builds self-esteem and motivates people (kids included) to build a productive society.

Many of us had part-time jobs as children, and many of us believe that working – and experiencing the rewards – is an important part of growing responsible, contributing adults.

So perhaps the Twitter warriors should just stay away – that way, there’d be more (utterly delicious) jam and relish for the rest of us.

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HiddenDragon7:15 pm 17 Apr 23

“It all began with a cheery story from the ABC discussing the lack of staff in the bush”

Possibly because there are so many people futzing away their days on the internet while pretending to do the sorts of overpaid b/s jobs which have proliferated in economies such as Australia’s – largely due to the tidal wave (albeit gradually receding) of liquidity unleashed by the world’s major central banks.

Jugiong sounds like a little latter day slice of the Darling Buds of May. The digital crusaders should leave it alone and focus their wrath on somewhat more serious issues, such as the exploitation of children to produce the minerals required to manufacture devices used to connect with the internet – but that would require the sort of insight and moral consistency which that lot rarely exhibit.

I wish some people would grow up. Good on those young people for giving it a go. My brother and I worked on my Dad’s building sites when Tuggeranong was being established as young (13 and 14 year olds) teenagers in the early seventies during our school holidays through to leaving high school. Early starts (6.30am in summer and about 7.00am in winter). Freezing cold Canberra winters and typical hot summers moving bricks/blocks and cement in wheelbarrows, back filling foundations, moving scaffolding. No one forced us. We chased the money and it kept us out of trouble. Seeing what other people had to do to make a living made me appreciated what real work was. I know it put me off becoming a bricklayer although my brother later became and electrician. We are both retired now, several changes in careers, university educated and better, more resilient people for the experience. Some of the self righteous keyboard ‘social’ advocates are probably typing away inside their snug homes in parts of Tuggeranong that my Dad, my brother and I built when we were kids. Keep warm and buy more jam.

Giving kids a job teaches them responsibility and enterprise. Good on all of them! 40 years ago we used to borrow our old man’s lawn mower and door knock to find work for ourselves for a bit of cash. Road trip to Jugiong to spend some money.

Great article, Genevieve.

As one of those Canberrans “fond of a stopover in Jugiong”, the proprietors of Long Track Pantry need not worry about sales of their “delicious raspberry and white peach jam” diminishing – I’m sure I, and many others, will more than offset the departure of that sanctimonious twittersphere dolt.

Until I saw the ABC story about this place, I didnt know it existed, so I now plan on making a visit and buy their products. So for all the negative people out that will not buy, Im sure like me they will replaced (plus more) that will now buy

When you go, also venture to their Tasting Room, which is just around the corner, past the Sir George. You can sample the produce before you buy … but be very careful, I’m now addicted to their Blood Orange & Gin Marmalade – and all it took was a small taste!

Toni Fairbairn5:49 pm 14 Apr 23

Legally earning money that is approved by parents teaches young people responsibility. No doubt they would be proud of their achievements. The business is following all the correct steps in ensuring they are trained and safe. I can only assume the people who objected did not have all the correct information before objecting.

Excellent piece

Good comments. I like that little shop. I have bought a couple of clothes items there, as the clothes are not always run of the mill.

Well said!

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