Volunteer FAQ

Click the drop-downs below for answers to frequently asked questions. For more information, please contact the volunteer coordinator, Sarah Wiggins, at [email protected] or 781-259-8621 ext. 54.

How do I become a volunteer?

All groups interested in volunteering should fill out a Group Volunteer Interest Form and a staff member from The Food Project will respond to your request shortly to help you schedule a date. All individuals should contact the farm manager on the farm you wish to volunteer on to set up a date(s). If you have any questions or need assistance, email [email protected]

Do I need farm experience to volunteer?

No! We train all volunteers in the field, so no experience is necessary. Just come with enthusiasm for getting your hands dirty!

Where are the farms?

When should volunteers arrive?

All volunteers should arrive on site 15 minutes before the start of their volunteer session. Farm volunteer sessions begin at 9:30 a.m., so volunteers should arrive at 9:15 a.m.

What do volunteers do?

Volunteers help with a variety of farm tasks including preparing beds, planting, weeding, harvesting, washing vegetables, and cleaning up the land. Volunteers should expect to work hard and get their hands and clothes dirty by the end of the morning. A group volunteer session begins with an activity to introduce participants to food systems and sustainable agriculture, and to the mission and work of The Food Project. Youth or staff will teach the tasks of the day, split volunteers into groups, assess any variations in abilities, and launch the day’s projects. Our growers work alongside the group to answer questions and guide volunteers throughout the morning.

What should volunteers bring?

Water bottle, sunscreen, hat, work gloves, and rain gear (if rain is predicted in the forecast). 

The Food Project will supply all the tools necessary 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 should volunteers wear?

Closed-toe shoes (rubber boots work well when it is muddy), clothes that can get dirty, long pants and long-sleeve shirts as well as layers are recommended to protect your skin from plant irritants, the sun, and ticks. 

Volunteers should be prepared for warm, cold, or wet weather and should bring extra layers and rain gear. Group leaders may want to bring a box of garbage bags in case group members do not have rain gear.

What happens when it rains?

Volunteer sessions will continue if it rains. Volunteers should bring rain gear if precipitation is in the forecast. The grower will cancel the volunteer session or tell volunteers to stop working if weather conditions are dangerous or not conducive to farm work.

Is water available at the farms?

There is a water source available at each of The Food Project’s farm sites. Volunteers should bring reusable water bottles to refill.

Is lunch available at the farms?

The Food Project does not provide or sell lunch to volunteers. We do invite volunteers to bring their own lunch or order lunch from a nearby restaurant to eat at the farm. There are shelter areas at all of our farms where volunteers can picnic.

What is the procedure for cancelling a volunteer session?

If you need to cancel your group volunteer outing, contact the volunteer coordinator, Sarah Wiggins, at [email protected] and 781-259-8621 Ext. 54 as soon as possible. If it is within 24 hours before the volunteer session, the group coordinator should also call the grower on the farm where they are volunteering.

What are the age requirements for volunteers?

Volunteers must be 14 years or older. Volunteers ages 14 to 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian with a youth to adult ratio of 1:1. Individual volunteers must be aged 17 or older to visit the farm on their own. High school seniors who need to complete service hours are invited to work as individual volunteers without an adult accompanying them. Children under the age of 14 are welcome to visit the farm with their family, but we are not able to accommodate them during workdays on the farm. We ask that parents be responsible for the supervision of their children whenever they are visiting the farm.

Is there a minimum or maximum size for volunteer groups?

There is no minimum group size. Each farm can host a maximum of 25 volunteers. We ask that the group leaders give us an accurate estimate of group size in advance so that we can plan the work for the day.

Is there work available for volunteers with disabilities or physical ailments?

For general farm tasks, volunteers should be able to stand, kneel, walk on uneven terrain, and carry objects weighing up to 15 pounds. If you are unsure about your ability to volunteer, please contact us for more information. Please advise the grower before the beginning of the volunteer session if you have any concerns about your physical abilities.

Do volunteers need to fill out any forms?

All volunteers must fill out an online volunteer registration form prior to their volunteer session. The registration form includes emergency contact information, a liability waiver, and a photo release. For groups, the link to the registration form will be sent to the group coordinator for distribution. For individuals, the grower will send a registration form link to the volunteer. Parents or guardians are to complete the registration form for volunteers under the age of 18.

Why are there no volunteer sessions during the summer?

The Food Project does not work with volunteers during the summer months because the youth in our Seed Crew and Root Crew are planting, harvesting, and tending the farms during July and August. The Serve & Grow volunteer program runs when youth are not on the farm in the spring (April – June) and in the fall (September – October).

Why does The Food Project request a donation for the Serve and Grow program?

Your group’s contribution helps to cover the costs of staffing the volunteer program and distributing the produce that your group will help plant, care for, and harvest. We ask for a contribution of $500 from corporate groups and $10/person from community groups. The donation is greatly appreciated and a huge help to support the mission of The Food Project. Donations can be made online or by sending a check, made out to The Food Project, to our Lincoln office at 10 Lewis St. Lincoln, MA 01773. Please be in touch if such a contribution is prohibitive for your group participating in Serve & Grow.