Volunteer FAQs

“Come one, come all, volunteer at Fairgate Community Farm in Stamford, CT. Turn the soil, pull the weeds, plant the seeds, and watch them grow. Feel a sense of togetherness, as you watch the veggies and fruits bloom, then feast upon the labor of your hands and become healthier as the days go by, from eating organically grown plants, nourished by your own hands. Thank you Fairgate Farm for giving me free organically grown foods for healthy living.”

– Agnes Roberts

Agnes Reading a poem about volunteering at Fairgate Farm
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What is it Like to Volunteer at Fairgate Farm? Farm Manager Pete Novajosky has answers to some frequently asked questions. 

How do I sign up to volunteer?

Easy! Please join us by completing our volunteer form

What is it like to volunteer at Fairgate Farm?

We try to make the experience as rich and rewarding as we can. What people do depends on what the Farm needs. Early in the season we are preparing the fields, turning over the soil and planting. During the season we are weeding, cultivating, watering and harvesting our plants. We’re also composting, having special events, making signs … there is always a lot to do!

Who are your volunteers?

People of all ages and backgrounds volunteer at Fairgate Farm. We have a large cohort of young people in their late teens, 20s and 30s, plus many who are in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Our volunteers come on their own as individuals or may come as groups of friends or co-workers. We have corporate teams, community service groups and people from organizations like Future 5, the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club. We welcome anyone and everyone who wishes to volunteer at the Farm!

Farm Manager Peter Novajosky

What health and safety measures are in place to protect volunteers in the current environment?

Fairgate Farm asks all volunteers to pre-schedule their volunteer participation with our Outreach Coordinator (ngagliardi@charteroakcommunities.org). Volunteer participation will be limited based on daily activities to ensure proper social distancing protocols. Volunteers will have their temperature taken upon arrival are asked to wear masks and to bring their own gloves. The Fairgate Farm Team wears masks at all times and sterilizes all high touchpoints. We also kindly ask that volunteers refrain from entering the small Farm shed. We are continually updating our procedures based on CDC and Connecticut Department of Agriculture Guidelines.

What is the time commitment involved in volunteering at Fairgate Farm?

We have some one-time volunteers but, honestly, it’s not the best experience for them or for us. You can come one time and do some weeding or planting but the more valuable and rewarding experiences come once you’ve gotten to know the Farm. Whether you come one or several days a week, making a commitment to regular volunteering is best for all. The more people come regularly, the more work gets done and the more satisfied people are with the experience.

How long do volunteers stay each time?

It’s great to make a weekly commitment of one or two hours – or more, if you’d like. That’s enough time to build on the experiences and learning from the previous week and so that you will spend some time planting and some time composting. If you’re here that often, you’ll understand the Farm and have an overall picture of our operation and your impact.

Do all volunteers do the same tasks?

The more often you come and the more you learn, the more freedom I have to let you go and do what you like and are good at. One time we had a volunteer who couldn’t distinguish between lettuce we’d been working hard to grow and a very common weed – we lost two rows that day! So we need to make sure you know what you are doing. But then, if you’ve shown me that you are an incredible pruner of tomatoes, I can hand that task over to you and do something else. 

Do you ever need volunteers for special events?

Definitely. We always have lots of things going on in season, from our Strawberry Festival in June to the season-ending Harvest Festival in October. We need people to help with setups, children’s activities, giving tours and more. In fact, we are always looking for volunteers with musical or artistic talents, yoga skills, or local chefs who are willing to share their talents in a safe and socially distant way with our community. Please reach out to us at fairgatefarm@gmail.com to use your talents to make a positive change!

Can children volunteer at Fairgate?

Kids are welcome to come along! If a child comes along with an adult who can supervise, I am happy to give them the same tasks I’d give anyone else. I have found that they do as good a job as grown-ups. We also have some really fun tasks, like making signs for our gardens.

Is there an instructional session or orientation for volunteers?

We don’t host a formal orientation session. However, please let us know by email (fairgatefarm@gmail.com) when you will be coming by. We host many school groups and want to make sure that we give you a proper introduction to the Farm so that you may enjoy it to its fullest! On your first visit we’ll give you a tour and share our history. We’ll talk about what we are growing on the Farm, what seasonal tasks are needed and go over some general farm rules.

What should I bring or wear?

Please remember to wear a mask, wear closed-toed shoes and clothes that you are comfortable getting a bit dirty in. On sunny hot days, a hat might be a good idea too. Please also bring a refillable water bottle and your own gloves. We will provide any other tools that you might need and. Tools will be cleaned between each use.

What do volunteers take home?

The answer to that depends on what’s in season. In the spring and early summer, we don’t have much food to harvest yet but we do our best to offer what we can. We often have lettuces or other greens growing in our greenhouse. In the height of our growing season, we always have several varieties of green leafy vegetables, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans and on and on. We have strawberries early in the summer, followed by peaches, apples and figs. We have fresh flowers and many herbs too. In fact, every year we aim to expand what we’re growing in the Farm. Please come by! There’s always so much to see!

What are the benefits of volunteering at Fairgate Farm?

There are so many! An obvious one is that our volunteers share in our harvest, taking home fresh-picked fruits and vegetables during the season. Since its inception, we’ve also donated lots of fresh produce to Stamford’s hunger relief charities like food banks and community kitchens. Our volunteers learn about farming, get lots of exercise, enjoy the companionship of other volunteers and go home, usually tired and happy, knowing they’ve made an important contribution to our community.

What skills do volunteers need?

We’ll teach you everything you need to know. 

Where can I learn more about volunteering at Fairgate Farm?

Call 203.940.2305 or email FairgateFarm@gmail.com or you can stop by during open hours and if I’m free, I’ll be happy to talk to you then. If not, we can make arrangements to get together at another time.

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