Volunteer Guidelines

We seek to provide numerous volunteers the opportunity to help us grow and harvest healthy food in a sustainable way. We also want all volunteers to have a rewarding experience. With these goals in mind, please follow the guidelines below when signing up to volunteer.

Our sessions for volunteering on the farm are scheduled from early April through October 27th.

We have no more available group volunteer sessions this season, although we are still open for individual volunteers through October 27th.

On February 1st, we open sign ups for the 2019 season with farm volunteer sessions beginning in early April.


Individual or Family-Farming or Flower Gardening

Farming

Individual or Family Volunteer Hours (April 1 – October 31)

SUNDAY CLOSED
MONDAY CLOSED
TUESDAY 9am–12pm, 1:30-3:30pm
WEDNESDAY 9am–12pm
THURSDAY 9am–12pm, 1:30-3:30pm
FRIDAY 9am–12pm, 1:30-3:30pm
SATURDAY 9am–12pm, 1:30 –3:30pm

 

Guidelines and Scheduling

  • For individuals or families, ages High School to Adult (generally age 15+, occasionally 14 years old), our morning sessions are normally 3 hours starting at 9 am.
  • For individuals requiring a shorter session or families with younger children ages 5+, we offer a 2 hour session, either in the morning (10 am–noon) or the afternoon (1:30 pm–3:30 pm).
  • We generally expect a family to include up to 5 people with 1–2 adults and 1–3 children.
  • As an individual or family, you may sign up for a volunteer session five days in advance (but more notice is appreciated!).
  • If you have previously volunteered this season, you may sign up for multiple sessions in increments of 1, 3 or 5 sessions. We offer up to 10 visits per season.
  • After signing up, you will immediately receive a confirmation email. In the case that we cannot accommodate your scheduled session, you will receive a request to reschedule.
  • The farm staff typically responds with any changes within 2-3 business days of your scheduling.

 

Please Notify Us If You Have to Cancel

  • If you must cancel, please use the link in your confirmation email to notify us as soon as possible.
  • When volunteers don’t arrive on-time as scheduled, it’s difficult for our farm staff to plan the day’s work.

 

High School Age (generally 15-17 years, occasionally 14 years old)

  • If you are an individual in high school (generally age 15-17, occasionally 14 years old), please sign up online and bring the release form signed by a parent or guardian.
  • If you are an individual younger than high school, you must be accompanied by an adult during your volunteer visit.

 

Be Prepared

Please share our Releases, Preparation and Directions document with your volunteers and bring a completed Waiver Form with you when volunteering.

Flower Gardeners

Individual Volunteer Hours (June – October)

WED 10am–12pm
FRIDAY 10am–12pm

 

Guidelines

  • Gaining Ground is looking for volunteers to work in our flower gardens.
  • Our flower garden is used for bouquets for our Food for Family recipients, adds much-needed biodiversity on the farm and visually enhances the volunteer experience.
  • Volunteers in our flower gardens will receive direction from our farmers and then work independently.

 

Scheduling

  • Please request to volunteer 3 days in advance using our online scheduling system.
  • Within 2–3 business days, you will receive a confirmation email or request to reschedule.

Group with Ages High School to Adult

Farming

We have no more sessions available for volunteer groups this season. On Feb. 1st, we will start sign ups for the 2019 season with farm volunteer sessions beginning in early April.

Volunteer Hours for Group with Ages High School to Adult (April 11-October 27)

MONDAY CLOSED
TUESDAY 9am–12pm, 1:30–3:30pm
WEDNESDAY 9am–12pm
THURSDAY 9am–12pm, 1:30-3:30pm
FRIDAY 9am–12pm, 1:30-3:30pm
SATURDAY 9am–12pm, 1:30-3:30pm
SUNDAY CLOSED

 

Guidelines

  • We offer one 3-hour session, in the morning, for groups with volunteers ages High School to Adult (generally age 15+, occasionally 14 years old).
  • If preferred, there is a shorter 2-hour session for groups in the morning (10 am–noon) or in the afternoon (1:30-3:30pm).
  • On weekdays, the maximum group size is 12. On Saturdays, the maximum group size is 16. Please respect group size and limits.

 

Scheduling

  • As group leader, please request at least one date and time no less than 7 days in advance. Using our online form, you can also tell us about your group, your preferences and any special considerations.
  • If your group has previously volunteered this season, you may request multiple sessions, generally no more than 1 session per month.
  • Typically within 2-3 business days of your request, you will receive a confirmation email with the date and time that best fits into the farmer’s plans.
  • If we cannot accommodate your initial preferences, you will receive an email to reschedule for an alternate session.
  • Several days before your session, you will receive a reminder.
  • For corporate groups with a budget for employee volunteer group activities, we suggest a tax-deductible contribution of $500. Please make checks payable to Gaining Ground, Inc. and mail to Gaining Ground:
    Attn. Amy Capofreddi P.O. Box 374 Concord, MA 01742.

Please Notify Us If You Have to Cancel

  • If you must cancel, please use the link in your confirmation email to notify us as soon as possible.
  • When volunteers don’t arrive as scheduled, it’s difficult for our farm staff to plan the day’s work and it prevents us from offering the time to other volunteers.
    Be Prepared

Please share our Releases, Preparation and Directions document with your volunteers and bring a completed Waiver Form with you when volunteering.

Group with Children; Group with Special Needs

Farming

We have no more sessions available for volunteer groups this season. On Feb. 1st, we will start sign ups for the 2019 season with farm volunteer sessions beginning in early April.

Volunteer Hours for Group with Children or Group with Special Needs (April–October)

MONDAY CLOSED
TUESDAY 1:30-3pm
WEDNESDAY 10:30am–12pm
THURSDAY 10:30am–12pm, 1:30–3pm
FRIDAY 10:30am–12pm, 1:30–3pm
SATURDAY 10:30am–12pm, 1:30–3pm
SUNDAY CLOSED

 

Guidelines

  • We offer 1.5 hour volunteer sessions for groups with children ages 5-14 or groups with special abilities.
  • These are scheduled either 10:30am–noon or 1:30pm–3 pm.
  • We expect a ratio of 1 adult for every 4 – 6 children, depending on age and ability. We expect a higher ratio of adults for special needs groups, depending on abilities and needs.
  • We prefer group sizes between 10-16 people (including adults and children), depending on age and ability. With advance planning, we can accommodate school groups up to 32 people (including adults and children).
  • On Saturdays, maximum group size is 16.
  • Please respect group size and limits so that the experience is better for everyone.

 

Scheduling

  • As group leader, please request at least one date and time no less than 7 days in advance. Using our online form, you can also tell us about your group, your preferences and importantly, any special considerations or special needs.
  • If your group has previously volunteered this season, you may request multiple sessions, generally no more than 1 session per season (spring, summer and fall).
  • Typically within 2-3 business days of your request, you will receive a confirmation email with the date and time that best fits into the farmer’s plans.
  • If we cannot accommodate your initial preferences, you will receive an email to reschedule for an alternate session.
  • Several days before your session, you will receive a reminder.

 

Please Notify Us If You Have to Cancel

  • If you must cancel, please use the link in your confirmation email to notify us as soon as possible.
  • When volunteers don’t arrive as scheduled, it’s difficult for our farm staff to plan the day’s work and it prevents us from offering the time to other volunteers.

 

Be Prepared

Please share our Releases, Preparation and Directions document with your volunteers and bring a completed Waiver Form with you when volunteering.

Releases, Preparation and Safety

Our Volunteer Preparation, Releases and Directions document contains the information below in addition to directions to the farm. Our Volunteer Contact and Waiver Form for Individuals and Groups is available here for printing and bringing with you when volunteering.

Volunteer Liability Release Statement

While working at Gaining Ground there are inherent risks. Every reasonable effort will be made to emphasize safe working habits. I understand and accept these risks for me and for my group members, if applicable, and will hold Gaining Ground and the Town of Concord harmless for any and all injuries suffered in the course of volunteering.

Volunteer Photo Release Statement

A group leader or I may explicitly request photos not be taken of members of the group when physically on site volunteering. Otherwise, I give permission for Gaining Ground to photograph me and/or members of my volunteer group for appropriate promotional purposes. I do not expect nor will I receive any form of compensation for the photograph/s and furthermore waive any future rights to compensation for use of pictures of me. I also understand and agree that the photograph/s area and will remain the property of Gaining Ground and they shall retain all rights and privileges associated with ownership of these photograph/s.

Expectations of Volunteers 

As an individual, you are responsible for your own health and safety in terms of individual release forms, allergies, heat and hydration, poison ivy, insects, etc.

Group leaders and chaperonesa working farm requires your full attention when accompanying group volunteers, especially children and young adults. You are responsible for your group’s health and safety in terms of individual release forms, allergies, heat and hydration, poison ivy, insects, etc. It is your job to encourage full participation, help with logistics, and handle any disciplinary issues. Please accompany anyone who must leave the group and let other leaders know of your departure.

Clothing

Farm work is in the dirt. Wear clothes and shoes or boots that you don’t mind getting dirty. Bring gloves if you like, your own small towel and a change of clothing, especially on hot or wet days.

Outdoor Exposure

Farm work is outside—there’s always something to do, rain or shine. Wear a hat and bring sunblock for sun protection or jackets for colder days. If rain is forecasted, bring rain gear and boots for walking in the mud. Note: we do not work in the fields if there is thunder and lightning!

Hydration and Food

Gaining Ground provides water. Bring a reusable water bottle to carry water out into the fields with you. If you start feeling more thirsty, slightly dizzy, lightheaded, or have a headache, this may be a sign of dehydration. You may bring snack food, and you are asked to carry out all of your trash.

Ticks and Lyme Disease

Gaining Ground is surrounded by bushy, woody areas—a common habitat for deer ticks carrying diseases such as Lyme disease. To reduce your chances of tick bites:

  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt and light-colored trousers tucked into socks or shoes.
  • Follow instructions for using a repellant with DEET or permethrin. Permethrin is not intended for skin contact, but is used on shoes, clothing, hats, etc.
  • Thoroughly examine your clothes and body for ticks after your visit.
  • Learn more about tick-borne disease prevention from the Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services.

Bees

Gaining Ground keeps honey bees on the Virginia Road farm. Most bees will not sting if left alone, however, bee and wasp stings can cause a medical emergency if someone is allergic to them. Volunteers and group leaders should be aware of anyone who is allergic, and be prepared to respond appropriately by bringing your own bee sting kits. 

Motorized Farm Equipment

Only Gaining Ground staff are allowed to operate motorized farm equipment. For your safety, we ask all volunteers to stay away from all equipment and within clear sight of any equipment operators.

Arrivals and Sign In

Location

Volunteers are normally scheduled for Gaining Ground’s main farm, located at 341 Virginia Road, Concord, MA. By special arrangement, volunteers may be scheduled at The Old Manse garden.

Parking

Parking is very limited, so please carpool when you can. Volunteers may park in the lot next to Gaining Ground’s sugar house. Please do not park in the Thoreau Farm parking lot, closest to the red and white Thoreau Farm house.

Please Sign In

During every volunteer visit, we expect anyone high school age and older to sign in upon arrival and leave release forms, both for safety reasons and record keeping. The sign-in station and bulletin board are on the right side of the farm road as you walk through the gate, down the dirt road toward the volunteer pavilion.

Carry In, Carry Out

Trash cans are not provided, so volunteers are asked to take their trash away with them. Drinking water is available at the farm and reusable bottles are encouraged.