Releases, Preparation, Safety & Directions

Here is our digital Volunteer Contact and Waiver Form for Groups and Individuals. Please sign prior to your volunteer session.

Here is our Volunteer Releases, Preparation, Safety and Directions document if you wish to review or 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 or illness 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

Gaining Ground is a friendly and welcoming place.  Disrespectful, disparaging, and disruptive behavior has no place on the farm.  Volunteers who engage in this type of behavior will be asked to leave.

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 chaperones: A 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.


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 and thunder!

Excessive Heat

On especially hot days, be sure to take frequent breaks, drink plenty of water before, during, and after your volunteer session, wear sunscreen and a hat, and work slowly and with care in order to minimize the risk of heat exhaustion/heat stroke. Generally, if the weather forecast calls for daytime temperatures of 85℉+, we email volunteers a warning ahead of time and offer you the chance to cancel or reschedule your session for a later date. If temperatures at or above 90℉ are predicted, we will cancel volunteer sessions for the health and safety of all. We will do our best to reschedule your session for another mutually agreeable day and time. Gaining Ground volunteers are not permitted to work inside our greenhouses, hoophouses, or tunnels if temperatures rise above 90℉. We strictly enforce shade and water breaks every 30 minutes if temperatures rise above 85℉. Electrolyte drinks and sunscreen are always available to volunteers – please ask a staff member and they will gladly assist you.

Hydration and Food

Gaining Ground provides drinking water on site, but we strongly recommend arriving well hydrated during hot summer weather. Drink plenty of water during the 24 hours prior to your volunteer session. 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. Please slow down, rest, and take breaks — you know your body’s limits best! You may bring snack food, and you are asked to carry out all of your trash when visiting the farm.

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.


Gaining Ground keeps honey bees on our 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. This is extremely important during hot summer days!
    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 out a chaperone or the 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 46B) 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.

Transportation Assistance

We recognize that the farm property is inaccessible for many folks and want to make visiting and/or volunteering available to all. If transportation to the farm is a logistical or financial barrier for you, we can offer an Uber voucher to sponsor the trip to Concord. Please reach out to Avery,, to get a voucher and for more information about how they work.

Parking and Proceeding to the Volunteer Pavilion

Gaining Ground’s 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 (a wooden shed used for boiling maple sap) on your right.  You may not park in the Thoreau Farm parking lot nor beside the red 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 to the volunteer sign-in box on the outside of the volunteer pavilion, and then gather inside the pavilion where you will meet the farm team and get started!