The Fauquier Education Farm has a positive impact on thousands of peoples lives. Our educational programs help new farmers and home gardeners grow more fresh produce for themselves, their families and our entire region. Our donations of fresh produce to local food banks help ensure that even those people in greatest need can maintain a healthy diet, rich in fresh, high quality vegetables. And our volunteer opportunities allow hundreds of families and individuals to gain important hands-on learning experience as well as giving them the special satisfaction that comes from freely giving their time and effort to try to make this a better world.
The living, breathing heart of all of our efforts is this large group of willing volunteers who make everything we do possible. Over the years we have built up an excellent core group of volunteers with new folks showing up all the time. With enough hands on deck we find that no one is ever asked to carry too large a share of the workload, and it requires very little commitment beyond a willingness to show up when asked, and do what you feel you can comfortably do.
The way our volunteer program works is pretty simple. We ask that folks sign up to receive weekly emails that detail the hours we will be working that week and what we are working on at those times. Due to changing weather and different seasonal needs, our schedule changes all the time, so we have found these emails to be an efficient way organize our crew. Lynn, our very wonderful Volunteer Coordinator, maintains the contact list and sends out the emails. She also adds details about our running total of donations and special events such as workshops and fundraisers that are coming up. The link to sign up is found on the, How to Help, page on our website and at the top of our Facebook page. We also post all of our work days on our Events calendar on both the website and Facebook page. We do not allow folks to just drop by on their own time to work, we need to work together during our posted work days and times.
Once we have posted a work day all you need to do is show up. There is no need to sign up for a work day. If you can’t be there right at 8 AM that’s okay, show up when you can, and if you can only show up for an hour that’s fine too. It is worth adding however, that during the heat of the summer our work times are often over fairly early. If we’ve asked for volunteers at 8 AM and you show up at 10:45 then you may very well miss out. We only ask that people contribute what help they feel comfortable with. This is farm work that requires walking over uneven ground with lots of bending and some lifting, with lots of help it’s never to much for any individual.
We do not have any kind of age requirement for our volunteers. We very much welcome kids on the farm, in fact they are very important to our success. We do require however, that all minor age children be accompanied by an adult at all times. Nobody gets to drop their kids off. We also ask that parents work closely with their children to ensure that they are following directions and helping our efforts rather than harming them.
Very often parents are bringing along their own children as well as some of their kids friends. This is very welcome at the Ed Farm. We want the experience to be positive and fun for every child and we will also take the time to explain what we are growing and how we are operating. During the watermelon season we often cut one up for a snack at the end of a harvest. Frequently parents will follow us to the food bank when we are making a donation, to allow their kids to make that full connection that they have just volunteered to help those in need. It is not unusual to have 25 volunteers show up for a summer time harvest, and of those 25 most often more than half will be under the age of 16. We believe that we are not only growing vegetables at the Education Farm, but are also cultivating the next generation of fully involved citizens.
We frequently have groups come to volunteer, and again this is very welcome. We do ask that any one organizing a group volunteer effort please coordinate this with the farm Director first. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org We have had Boy and Girl Scouts, home school groups, church groups and schools all contribute valuable help and most often we can set up a time just for your group to volunteer. It does begin to be difficult when a group is too large, so please consider no more than 15 to 20 volunteers at one time.
Our volunteers are truly beautiful people. Very often they are driving much more than an hour to come work for free in the summer heat. We have fun working together and walking away with the satisfaction that many tons of produce for those in need will come from our collective spirit of giving. We get to see kids faces light up with excitement when they find a huge potato or onion. We are learning and growing and giving and building community. Our volunteers truly are helping to make this a better world, one seed at a time. Please consider joining us!