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Volunteer Guidelines

Volunteer Safety and Privacy at Gaining Ground

When you volunteer at Gaining Ground, you are involved in the operations of a working farm. There are inherent risks, though every reasonable effort will be made to emphasize safe working habits. In addition, these are precautions you can take when volunteering:


Farm work is outside and there is always something to do, rain or shine. Wear a hat and bring sun block for protection from the sun. If the forecast calls for rain, bring rain gear and boots for walking in the mud.

Note: we do not work in the fields if there is thunder and lightning!


Farm work is outside and it's in the dirt. Wear clothes and shoes or boots that you don't mind getting dirty. After working in the fields, wash your hands, especially before you eat anything. Help us reduce our use of paper towels by bringing your own small hand towel to clean and dry your hands and face, especially on hot days!


Working outside, you may lose more water than you take in. Signs of dehydration include feeling more thirsty, slight dizziness or lightheadedness, or a headache. Gaining Ground provides water. It is a good idea to bring a water bottle so that you can carry water with you to where you are working in the fields.

Ticks and Lyme Disease

Gaining Ground is surrounded by bushy, woody areas that are the habitat for deer ticks. Lyme disease spreads to humans from the bite of infected deer ticks. Volunteers have found ticks when working in the fields. These are steps you can take to lower your chances of tick bites:

  • Wear long, light-colored trousers tucked into socks or shoes, and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • 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.
  • Examine your clothes and your body thoroughly for ticks after your visit.
  • Learn more on tick-borne disease prevention with information from the Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services.


At various times Gaining Ground has kept bees on the Virginia Road farm. Gaining Ground will inform volunteers of the location of any bee colonies. Most bees will not sting if left alone. Bee stings can cause a medical emergency if one is allergic to them. Volunteers groups should be aware of any one in their group who may have this problem and be prepared to respond appropriately.

Motorized Farm Equipment

Only Gaining Ground staff are allowed to operate any motorized farm equipment, such as the rototiller or the tractor. For your safety, we ask all volunteers to refrain from climbing on the tractor or any other equipment on the farm.


Gaining Ground asks volunteers or volunteer groups to sign into a volunteer log and provide us with a little demographic information such as age and where you are from. This helps us explain how we support community-building to organizations and individuals that fund the farm. We only report on this information in the aggregate and we remove any specific names.

Occasionally we take pictures of volunteers for our newsletter or other marketing material. We will provide a picture release form to get a volunteer's consent before publishing a picture.