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.

On Tuesday, February 5th, we open up the the online sign-up process for the 2019 season. Farm volunteer sessions are scheduled from early April through early November.  Please revisit this website in February to sign up.


Individual or Family-Sugaring and Farming/Flower Gardening

On Tuesday, Feb. 5th, we will start sign ups for the 2019 season with sugaring volunteer sessions beginning mid February and farming volunteer sessions beginning early April.

Sugaring

For a span of four to six weeks in February and March, we collect buckets of sap from sugar maple trees in Concord. Volunteers may join us as we boil sap into syrup, donated to families seeking hunger relief. Sugaring is weather dependent, so scheduling sessions may shift.

Sugaring Volunteer Hours for Individual or Family (mid February – mid March)

SUNDAY CLOSED
MONDAY CLOSED
TUESDAY 1:30-4:30pm
WEDNESDAY  CLOSED
THURSDAY 1:30-4:30pm
FRIDAY  CLOSED
SATURDAY 1:30 –4:30pm

Guidelines and Scheduling for Sugaring

  • In the afternoon, up to 12 individuals may gather at the sugar shack to learn about boiling sap and to help as needed during 90 minute sessions. Even when there is little work to be done, the farmers appreciate the company!
  • Wear warm clothes and boots; bring snack and beverage if desired.
  • Please request to volunteer at least 1 day in advance using our online scheduling system.
  • Within 2–3 business days, you will receive a confirmation email or request to reschedule.
  • Sugaring is very weather dependent so check your emails for updates about rescheduling or contact volunteer@gainingground.org if there is uncertainty.
  • If you are an individual in high school (generally age 15-17, occasionally 14 years old), please sign up online and bring completed Waiver Form signed by a parent or guardian.

Farming

Individual or Family Volunteer Hours (April – mid November)

SUNDAY CLOSED
MONDAY CLOSED
TUESDAY 9am–12pm, 1:30-3:30pm (Nov: 10 – 12pm only)
WEDNESDAY 9am–12pm                           (Nov: 10 – 12pm only)
THURSDAY 9am–12pm, 1:30-3:30pm (Nov: 10 – 12pm only)
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-Sugaring and Farming

On Tuesday, Feb. 5th, we will start sign ups for the 2019 season with sugaring volunteer sessions beginning mid February and farming volunteer sessions beginning early April.

Sugaring

For a span of four to six weeks in February and March, we collect buckets of sap from sugar maple trees in Concord. Volunteers may join us as we boil sap into syrup, donated to families seeking hunger relief. Sugaring is weather dependent, so scheduling sessions may shift.

Sugaring Volunteer Hours for Group with Ages High School to Adult (mid February – mid March)

SUNDAY CLOSED
MONDAY CLOSED
TUESDAY 1:30-4:30pm
WEDNESDAY  CLOSED
THURSDAY 1:30-4:30pm
FRIDAY  CLOSED
SATURDAY 1:30 –4:30pm

Guidelines and Scheduling for Sugaring

  • In the afternoon, up to 12 individuals may gather at the sugar shack to learn about boiling sap and to help as needed during 90 minute sessions. Even when there is little work to be done, the farmers appreciate the company.
  • Wear warm clothes and boots; bring snack and beverage if desired.
  • Please request to volunteer at least 1 day in advance using our online scheduling system.
  • Within 2–3 business days, you will receive a confirmation email or request to reschedule.
  • Sugaring is very weather dependent so check your emails for updates about rescheduling or contact volunteer@gainingground.org if there is uncertainty.
  • If you are an individual in high school (generally age 15-17, occasionally 14 years old), please sign up online and bring completed Waiver Form signed by a parent or guardian.

Farming

Farming Volunteer Hours for Group with Ages High School to Adult (April – mid November)

MONDAY CLOSED
TUESDAY 9am–12pm, 1:30–3:30pm (Nov: 10 – 12pm only)
WEDNESDAY 9am–12pm                            (Nov: 10 – 12pm only)
THURSDAY 9am–12pm, 1:30-3:30pm (Nov: 10 – 12pm only)
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-Sugaring and Farming

On Tuesday, Feb. 5th, we will start sign ups for the 2019 season with sugaring volunteer sessions beginning mid February and farming volunteer sessions beginning early April.

Sugaring

For a span of four to six weeks in February and March, we collect buckets of sap from sugar maple trees in Concord. Volunteers may join us as we boil sap into syrup, donated to families seeking hunger relief. Sugaring is weather dependent, so scheduling sessions may shift.

Sugaring Volunteer Hours for Group with Children (mid February – mid March)

SUNDAY CLOSED
MONDAY CLOSED
TUESDAY 1:30-4:30pm
WEDNESDAY  CLOSED
THURSDAY 1:30-4:30pm
FRIDAY  CLOSED
SATURDAY 1:30 –4:30pm

Guidelines and Scheduling for Sugaring

  • In the afternoon, up to 12 individuals may gather at the sugar shack to learn about boiling sap and to help as needed during 90 minute sessions. The fire is hot and the space is small so children ages 5 – 14 need to be carefully watched by the group leaders. Even when there is little work to be done, the farmers appreciate the company.
  • Wear warm clothes and boots; bring snack and beverage if desired.
  • Please request to volunteer at least 1 day in advance using our online scheduling system.
  • Within 2–3 business days, you will receive a confirmation email or request to reschedule.
  • Sugaring is very weather dependent so check your emails for updates about rescheduling or contact volunteer@gainingground.org if there is uncertainty.
  • If you are an individual in high school (generally age 15-17, occasionally 14 years old), please sign up online and bring completed Waiver Form signed by a parent or guardian.

Farming

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, Safety & Directions

Here is our Volunteer Contact and Waiver Form for Groups and High School Individuals to print, fill out and bring with you.

Here is our Volunteer Releases, Preparation, Safety and Directions document if you wish to print the information below.

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: Preparation and Safety 

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 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.

Volunteer Farm Rules

    1. Quality over quantity.
    2. Please walk- and always stay on farm roads or on the paths between the crop beds.
    3. Do not climb on farm equipment.
    4. Stay with your leader – or an adult if you leave the group.
    5. Take a break and stay hydrated.
    6. Wash with soap for dirt and poison ivy and check for ticks when at home tonight.
    7. In the event of an emergency, seek a Chaperone or Farm Manager.

Directions to Gaining Ground

341 Virginia Rd, Concord, MA 01742

From the east, south or north: From I-95, exit onto Rte. 2A west (exit 30B) and follow signs to Hanscom Field. After 1.5 miles, turn right at the blinking light onto Hanscom Drive. After .5 miles, bear left at the fork and through one stop sign.  Turn left onto Old Bedford Road that turns into Virginia Road (Do not go straight into Hanscom Airport or right into Hanscom Airbase). Gaining Ground is on the right after 1.5 miles. Just past Thoreau Farm House at 341 Virginia Road, turn into the parking lot for Gaining Ground. Park and walk through the gate out to the volunteer sign-in box and then gather at the volunteer pavilion.

From the west: Take Rte. 2 east and bear right onto the exit ramp for Rte 2A/Lincoln/Concord just before the overpass. Turn left on Mary’s Way at the light to go under the overpass. Take a right onto Rte 2A (gas station will be on your left). On Rte 2A, go about .6 mile, then take a sharp left onto Old Lexington Road (through Minuteman National Park). After .9 mile, turn right onto Old Bedford Road. After .5 miles, turn right onto Virginia Road. Gaining Ground’s parking lot is on the left after .7 mile, just before Thoreau Farm House at 341 Virginia Road. Turn into the parking lot, park and walk through the gate out to the volunteer sign-in box and then gather at the volunteer pavilion.

Parking and Proceeding to the Volunteer Pavilion

Gaining Ground parking entrance is marked by the green Gaining Ground sign on Virginia Road.  If you pull into the driveway marked with the Thoreau Birthplace Farm sign, please continue around the U-shaped driveway and park just past the sugar house (shed for boiling maple sap) on your right.  You may not park in the Thoreau Farm parking lot nor park beside the farm house stone wall.

Please leave valuables in a safe place and just bring essentials, such as water, hat, rain coat, snack, allergy medications, etc.  We have a carry-in, carry-out policy for all garbage.

Following the signs, walk through the large gate the volunteer sign-in box and then gather at the volunteer pavilion where you will meet the farm team and get started!

Arrivals and Sign In

Location

Volunteers are typically scheduled for tasks on Gaining Ground’s property, located at 341 Virginia Road, Concord, MA.

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, nearer to the Thoreau Farm house and with the solar array.

Please Sign In

During every farming 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 at the volunteer pavilion, on the right side of the farm road as you walk through the gate and down the road in the direction of the barn.

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.