Our farm has been growing fruit for the local community for almost 150 years. We see ourselves as custodians of a vital community asset, and want to build a community of people who feel a sense of ownership for the orchard and the fruit we grow together. It’s part of the model of farming we’re currently working with at the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op (HOFC).
Volunteering gives you a chance to learn fruit-growing skills, connect with your local organic farm, and have fun outdoors with a team of like-minded people.
How to Volunteer
If you join the Fruit Crew (see below), it can also be an exchange for your PYO-CSA (Pick-Your-own – Community Supported Agriculture) subscription.
Volunteer sessions may involve being around equipment like tractors, whipper-snippers, or secateurs, so it’s not appropriate for children under about 14 to attend. However, children are VERY welcome when the farm is open for Pick-Your-Own fruit.
We’re offering the chance to volunteer this season on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
You can do either a morning shift, an afternoon shift, or both. (For a more detailed outline of the day, read this page.)
There are two ways to volunteer:
1. JOIN THE FRUIT CREW
Fruit Crew is essentially a practical, hands-on, summer course in fruit growing. Rather than charging course fees, we’re offering a simple exchange of our skills, knowledge, and fruit (if you want it) for your labour, enthusiasm, and participation.
Fruit Crew is starting on Wednesday, 25 October. Places are limited, so please register your interest as soon as possible. You can also apply to join after that date as places may open up throughout the season.
Fruit Crew is for people who want to learn fruit-growing skills and can commit to an average of at least 1 day (or two half-days) per week. It’s also for people who want to work in exchange for their PYO-CSA share.
We understand people may be away from time to time, however the fruit season doesn’t stop for holidays! To make the experience worthwhile for both you and us, please don’t sign up unless you can commit to at least 10 days (or 20 half-days) across the whole season (from mid-October to April).
We encourage Fruit Crew members to come to at least one morning session per week, starting at 8 am, to participate in morning skills sessions. These will be short, sharp mini-workshops explaining why and how we do different jobs. Over the season, the sessions will cover most of the jobs involved with running an orchard including nutrition, irrigation, pruning, pest prevention and management, sales, marketing, organic certification, etc. See the program outline here.
The rest of the day will be “working together” sessions where we’ll put the theory into practice. Learning will continue all day with chatting, questions, and experience.
Many days will involve repetitive jobs, e.g., thinning, picking, or sorting fruit. Some days there will be a variety of jobs on offer. Over the season, Fruit Crew participants will get the chance to try lots of different tasks and learn lots of different skills.
Fruit Crew members will need a reasonable level of fitness to be able to work a half-day shift and carry up to 8kg (when picking fruit). There can also be quite a bit of walking involved, so you’ll need enough mobility to easily be able to walk up to 500m.
Where appropriate, there may also be the opportunity to match enthusiastic Fruit Crew participants with more specialised jobs like
- using equipment such as whipper-snippers and tractors,
- looking after the farm shop and showing customers how to pick their own fruit,
- helping to manage the irrigation system, and
- selling fruit at markets.
Fruit Crew members may also be asked/encouraged to take a leadership role with casual volunteers to help embed your newly acquired skills. Teaching is a great way of learning!
For the right people, there may also be the opportunity for seasonal employment or potentially even long-term partnership in the orchard.
In exchange for your labour you’ll learn about fruit growing, do productive work with other cool people helping to grow food, and get to work outside in nature. You’ll also be participating in a revolutionary farming model that’s aiming to change our broken food system! Chats, eating together, and being part of the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op community are side benefits.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTES!
- Fruit Crew participants have the option to exchange labour for a PYO-CSA share. (You can choose this option when signing up for your PYO-CSA share.)
- Every 10 half-day shifts you work on the Fruit Crew entitles you to a 100 kg PYO-CSA share. You’re not obliged to take this much fruit if you can’t use it or don’t want it.
- If you have signed up for a PYO-CSA and want to pick-your-own fruit on the same day as you’re working a Fruit Crew shift, please allow extra time to pick your fruit before or after your shift.
You can find out more details about the Fruit Crew in the Volunteering MOU here.
Ready to apply? You’ll find the application form here.
2. BE A CASUAL VOLUNTEER
If you’d like to volunteer occasionally but can’t commit to regular times or full morning or afternoon shifts, please let us know on this form and we’ll get in touch to discuss options.