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Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering at The Food Project

We are often asked the following questions about the Serve & Grow program.

Where do we meet and how early should my group get there?
Groups volunteering in Lincoln will be at our Baker Bridge site.  Groups volunteering in Dorchester will meet at our West Cottage site.  All groups should arrive on site at 9:15am..  Please come on time as we begin our program promptly at 9:30am.


What is the work like?
Farming is hard work, depending on the season. You may be preparing beds, planting, harvesting, tending vegetables or cleaning up the land for 2 to 3 hours, rain or shine. Expect to get your hands and clothes dirty by the end of the morning.


What do I need to bring?
Work gloves, water bottles, sunscreen, and rain gear (depending on weather). We will supply all the tools you need to work in the field. If you have a medical condition such as asthma or anaphylaxis, please bring your inhaler or epi-pen and tell your group leader of your condition before working in the field.


What do I wear when working on the land?
Long pants and shirt are recommended for farm work. Close-toed shoes are required because you may be working with sharp tools. Keep in mind that you will get dirty, and be prepared for warm, cold, or wet weather. Bring extra layers and rain gear so that you are comfortable working in most weather conditions. A box of garbage bags is a good item to bring in case people in your group don’t bring rain gear.


Do we still work when it rains?
Yes, we work when it rains. The grower will tell TFP staff and group leaders to stop working when weather conditions are not conducive for fieldwork.


What about lunch and water?
We have a tent in Lincoln and a shelter in Roxbury under which participants can eat lunch. Feel free to bring your own lunch.  We have a water source available at each site.


How old do I have to be to work out on the land?
The age limit for individual volunteers is 17 or older.  High school seniors, who need to complete service hours, are invited to work as an individual volunteer on the land without an adult.  We ask that youth (under the age of 17) who need to complete service hours coordinate a group service day with the Serve & Grow Coordinator.  Please refer to Service Learning for Community and School Groups.

The minimum age for youth who participate in our Serve & Grow program as part of a group is 12.  Groups are asked to have a youth to adult ratio of at least 6:1.

Younger children are welcome to visit the farm with their family, but we are not able to accomodate them during work days on the farm.  We do ask that parents be responsible for the supervision of their children whenever visiting the farm.


How large a group can come do service on the land?
We can accommodate groups of up to 20 people in Roxbury and groups of up to 60 in Lincoln.


What if I have a physical ailment such as a bad back?
Please let us know before the day of your Serve & Grow program so that we can try to find an alternative task that is conducive for your physical or medical condition.


Why do individual volunteers need to fill out an emergency contact and medical form?
All individual volunteers must fill out the Individual Volunteer Emergency Contact and Medical Form.  They are available at the site on the first day you volunteer.  In case of an emergency while you are on the land, we would like to know who we can contact.


Can I volunteer in the summer?
No. The Serve & Grow program runs in the Spring (April through June) and in the Fall (mid-August through mid-November). During the Summer season (July through mid-August), our Summer Youth crews plant, harvest, and tend the land in Roxbury and Lincoln.


Why does The Food Project request a donation for the Serve & Grow Program?

The Food Project requests that each participating group in the Serve & Grow Program share in the costs of providing food to the hungry and for staff time by making a donation. These dollars translate directly into food- every $10 allows us to donate 10 pounds of vegetables to a shelter- enough to provide 20 servings of fresh vegetables for hungry people. For corporate groups, a $500 donation translates into a 1000 servings of vegetables for hungry people.


If you want to sign-up for a Serve & Grow program or need more information, please contact the Serve & Grow coordinator at (781) 259-8621 x30 or email [email protected].

Volunteers-Group

We grow 250,000 pounds of vegetables each year and that requires a lot of hands. The Food Project depends on over 2,000 youth and adults to assist us in growing food at our city lots and rural farmland in Eastern Massachusetts. The work that you do during a morning at The Food Project is essential to helping us achieve our goal of providing sustainably and locally-grown food for hungry people in shelters and residents of Boston’s inner city and suburbs. We couldn’t meet this goal without you.

We are looking for individuals who would like to volunteer on our farms in Lincoln and Roxbury during the months of April-June and September-November. We work on the land Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings, rain or shine. The work varies with season but includes planting, transplanting, weeding, soil preparation, harvesting and clean-up. The vegetables that you help to grow will feed hungry people at soup kitchens and shelters in Greater Boston, supply our inner city farmers markets, and be distributed through our Community Supported Agriculture program. You may find the work tiring, fun, or challenging, but you will certainly find it rewarding. No prior experience with farming is required.


How it Works
When:   Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Saturdays
                in the Spring: April - June
                in the Fall: August 28 - November 1
Times:   9:30am-12:30pm
Where:  Lincoln (Baker Bridge Farm) or Roxbury (West Cottage Street Lot)
Who:  Everyone 17 or over is welcome.  No Prior experience is necessary.  We will provide all the training you need.

For details about volunteering at one of our North Shore locations, click here.

Program Details
Individual volunteers are an important part of our agricultural program, especially those that can make a committment to help once or twice a week throughout the season.  The farm staff depends on them to help with planting, weeding, and harvesting, especially on those days when groups are not signed up.  Individuals help us run the wash station, set up the CSA, pack crates for distribution to the Farmers' Markets or hunger relief organizations, and even lead volunteer groups.

If you can not make a weekly committment, we understand and invite you to join us when you can. Please email us for details at [email protected].

We ask that individual volunteers be 17 years or older. High school seniors, who need to complete service hours, are invited to work as an individual volunteer on the land without an adult.  We ask that youth (under the age of 17) who need to complete service hours, coordinate a group service day with the Serve & Grow Coordinator.  Please refer to Service Learning for Community and School Groups.

All individual volunteers are asked to complete an Individual Volunteer Emergency Contact and Medical Form prior to working on the land.  We will provide you with the form on your first volunteer day.


Questions?
Please see our list of Frequently Asked Questions, and contact the Serve and Grow coordinator (info below) if you still have questions.


How do I sign up?
Contact the Serve and Grow coordinator at (781) 259-8621 x30 or email for more information [email protected].
 

Volunteers-Individual

We grow 250,000 pounds of vegetables each year, requiring many hands. The Food Project depends on over 2,000 youth and adults to assist us in growing food at our city lots and rural farmland in Eastern Massachusetts. The work that you do during a morning at The Food Project is essential to helping us achieve our goal of providing sustainably and locally-grown food for hungry people in shelters and residents of Boston’s inner city and suburbs. We couldn’t meet this goal without you.

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TFP Teleconference Series Recordings Available for Download

The Food Project is an organization focused on growth and development, of our crops, our youth, ourselves, our organization, and of others that we meet along the way. We have had many opportunities to collaborate on projects that support this focus.

One such project was our LIFT (Leaders in Food-Security Training) Teleconference Series. The series was a great chance for people from all over the country to share knowledge and learn from one another.

So much of the comments and information from these presentations and conversations is timeless and invaluable that we turn back to them occasionally as a key resource or training tool. Now, they’re available to download right here. Check out the topics below and let us know what you think.

Each recording is about 1 1/2 hours long and includes a presentation followed by open discussion. (Files are 5mb mp3’s and sound quality varies).

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  • An Open Letter to Michelle Obama

    Dear Michelle Obama,

    Congratulations on choosing to plant a food garden on the White House grounds.  Now imagine that mini-farm on the White House grounds being tended by youth from Washington DC!  Give young people the opportunity to contribute purposefully to their community by growing food for the hungry and caring for the land. The Food Project has been doing this for almost 20 years in the Boston area. What a great way to inspire other youth across the USA to literally see that the fruits of their labor can create change in their own communities.

    Hire a teenage farmer and challenge all of us to engage in a new way of thinking, acting, and being. Teens from across the district, together as a team, will plant the seeds of cooperation, community and pride as they grow, harvest and distribute the bounty of their shared labor. We believe in the ability to inform a new generation of leaders by placing teens in responsible roles, with deeply meaningful work.

    The Food Project has been guided by the belief that community is created by providing common ground - in toiling, harvesting and sharing of the bounty.   We celebrate collaboration, cooperation and the value of a hard day’s work. A White House Garden tended by teens from across the city’s social, racial and economic neighborhoods can inspire a youth movement across the land.

    When youth experience the value of labor and service while building a diverse and effective community they discover and develop their talents, make friends and test themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. Inviting youth to serve and to take risks offers a chance to see oneself and the world differently and encourages the same in each volunteer, neighbor, and friend.

    Thank you.

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    Now What? Seven Priorities for the Food Movement in the Age of Obama and Why Young People Will Lead the Way

    by Anim Steel

    “Is a sustainable food strategy on Obama’s menu?” asked Derrick Jackson in a December 30, 2008 Boston Globe column.  Don’t depend on it, he concluded, despite some pretty encouraging signs from the Obama camp.  The new president will face serious “blowback” from the agribusiness industry, he noted.  That’s a lobby that Michael Pollan described as the second most powerful in DC.

    So if Obama doesn’t lead the way, who will?  And even if he proves to be a champion of sustainable food policy, what will bridge the enormous gap between vision and reality? What will force revolutionary change all the way from Capitol Hill to the corner store?

    Read more

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    Leading Food Advocates To Visit Farmworker Community Dubbed “Ground Zero for Modern Slavery"

    Immokalee, FL – On Wednesday, March 4th, a dozen prominent authors, sustainable food advocates, and small farmers participated in a day-long delegation to Immokalee, Florida witnessing firsthand the miserable living and working conditions of migrant farmworkers. Delegates spent the day with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a nationally recognized farmworker organization at the forefront of fighting to improve farmworkers’ sub-poverty wages; combating forced labor in the Florida agricultural industry; and demanding that corporate food retailers use their market power to ensure more humane labor standards from their Florida tomato suppliers.

    Who was there?  Anim Steel, Director of National Programs, The Food Project

    Frances Moore Lappé, Author, Diet for a Small Planet; Raj Patel, Author, Stuffed and Starved; Josh Viertel, President, Slow Food USA; Bill Ayres, Executive Director, World Hunger Year; Ben Burkett, President, National Family Farm Coalition; Mike Moon, Family Farm Defenders;
    Eric Holt-Gimenez, Executive Director, Food First/Institute for Development Policy;
    LaDonna Redmond, President & CEO, Institute for Community Resource Development;
    Tom Philpott, Food Editor and Columnist, Grist.org; Jim Goodman, Organic Farmer;

    Farmworkers who pick tomatoes for the corporate food industry are among the country’s least paid, least protected workers. They earn about 45 cents for every 32-lb. bucket of tomatoes they pick – a rate that has not changed significantly in 30 years – working from dusk to dawn without the right to overtime pay. They receive no benefits and are excluded from the right to organize. In the most extreme cases, captive workers are held against their will by their employers through threats or violence – including beatings, shootings, and pistol-whippings.

    There have been seven federal prosecutions by the Department of Justice for forced labor in the Florida agricultural industry in the past ten years, involving well over one thousand farmworkers.

    This is the first-ever delegation of sustainable food advocates to Immokalee. The delegation is hosted by Just Harvest USA, a national organization that aims to build a more just and sustainable food system with a focus on establishing fair wages, humane working conditions, and fundamental rights for farmworkers. They achieve this through broad public education about the conditions in which our food is produced and mobilizing support for farmworker-led and other grassroots campaigns.

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    What do those farmers do in the winter?

    onion seedlings
    onion seedlings
    By Kate Mrozicki, Farm CSA Manager

    Yes, we farmers do work some in the winter.  Now it is care for the inanimate object on the farm, not the vegetables, that occupies our time. Coming home from a day of wrenches and repairs I found an old essay by E. B. White that summed up how I was feeling: “farming is about twenty per cent agriculture and eighty per cent mending something that has got busted. Farming is a sort of glorified repair job.“ That is certainly how it seems at this time of year when our hands are more likely to be smeared with tractor grease than creased with soil. Fix-it projects vie for our attention before the season begins- the water hydrant that dribbles when it should gush, the door that swings at an awkward angle, the green house heater that stubbornly refuses to fire up, the tractor tire that goes flat as soon as it awakens from its winter slumber. Fluids need changing and filters need cleaning. We are becoming quite fond of our liquid wrench, sledgehammers and ratchets. Sometimes the problems require a much softer touch. That heater malfunction turned out to be more of a zoning than a mechanical issue. Generations of birds had squeezed through the narrow grate meant to keep them out and taken up residence in the chimney, eventually cutting our heater off from the oxygen supply required for combustion. A tall ladder and a long stick were all it took to evict the tenants and their nests, allowing the heater to rumble to life again. Luckily, just as we were beginning to feel more like mechanics than farmers, seeding time arrived and now the neon green of emergent onions brightens our lives. Once again we have living things to care for, vegetables to cultivate, dinner to grow.

     

    by Kate Mrozicki, Farm CSA Manager

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    Urban Education Workshops

    Neighborhood Tours

    The Urban Education and Outreach (UEO) interns are responsible for providing community members and visiting groups tours of our urban farmland and about the history of the Dudley neighborhood where we work. Along with workshops, these neighborhood tours serve as an opportunity for interns to practice public speaking and learn about a variety of topics and issues.


    Through our public education programs we remediate lead-contamined gardens and mentor backyard gardeners in providing safe, delicious, and healthy food for their families.

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    The Food Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

    Tax ID: 04-3262532

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