Volunteer Farm sees slow growth after recent rain

By Josette Keelor

The Volunteer Farm in Woodstock is in need of more volunteers and college interns.

Hit especially hard during the spring planting season while young volunteers are still in school, the farm has experienced additional difficulties this year with so much recent rain.

The farm is about two weeks behind on planting crops, according to chairman and CEO Bob Blair, and needs about 4,000 volunteers make this year a record production year and help a growing number of hungry residents across a third of the commonwealth.

“Things are improving,” he said. “But it’s not just our problem, it’s all over the state.”

“We need more volunteers than usual simply because we’re trying to grow a larger crop, a greater volume,” he said.

This year’s goal is to harvest more than 100,000 crops, but the success of the harvest depends on when and how much volunteers can plant.

The sooner they plant, the sooner they can harvest and replant in late summer.

“It gets to be kind of crucial when we’re unable to plant a crop early in the spring like we had planned,” Blair said.

So far, a newsletter from the Volunteer Farm said, volunteers and staff have planted 6,200 cabbage plans grown in the greenhouse at Sherando High School in Stephens City, as well as two acres of onions, an acre of beets, an acre of radishes, four acres of potatoes and an acre of kohlrabi.

The farm relies on individual volunteers and mission teams from churches, schools, civic organizations or businesses. Volunteer opportunities include jobs in the field and fundraising work inside.

The farm also seeks college interns to work fulltime or part-time over the next two years. Interns may be part of any course of study, and a $25,000 grant from an anonymous donor will fund the intern program.

To learn about volunteer opportunities, visit www.volunteerfarm.org and click on “volunteer” at the top of the home page. The Volunteer Farm requires anyone visiting the farm to fill out a liability waiver. Those younger than 18 need a parent or guardian to sign the waiver, in advance if the child will be part of a volunteer group without parent or guardian present.

Available dates are listed on the website. To apply for the intern program, send a resume to bblair@shentel.net. Contact the farm at 540-459-3478.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com