The lead Farmer Program Grow food for your own family and for food-insecure people!

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Feed our families and yours.
Here’s how it works.



A lead farmer agrees to work 85 hours of the season (about 4 hours per week) on Revolutionary Earth Farm, what we call the collection of large-scale gardens we maintain in Rochester.


The lead farmer is assigned to oversee a garden and manage the volunteers who work there. (Hint: being a good organizer is more important than gardening experience/knowledge).


In return, a lead farmer receives a full share CSA (Compassion-Supported Agriculture) produce box (10–12 lbs. of produce each week, 16–20 weeks, from June to October).

A lead farmer is a highly motivated, positive person who believes in our mission to deliver the freshest produce to food-insecure people in Rochester. Here’s what a lead farmer does:
  1. A lead farmer is in charge of one garden location, at which she spends about 4 hours per week during the season, from about mid-May to mid-October.
  2. About twice a week, a lead farmer meets up with a small team of volunteers to do about an hour or so of gardening: planting, tending, weeding, watering, etc.
  3. A lead farmer coordinates with the harvesting team to ensure that produce from the garden gets to our processing location every Saturday.
  4. A lead farmer may help out with packing and delivering on Saturdays, but not necessarily.
  5. A lead farmer assists other lead farmers with larger events, like seed starting, spring planting, large harvests, educational events, etc.
  6. Once a month, every lead farmer meets up with master gardeners on a virtual conference call to discuss farm operations as a member of the Farm Management Circle.

How we support our lead farmers

Education


Olmsted county master gardeners provide all of our lead farmers with educational support. Master gardeners often have years of experience and excellent training in how to grow great gardens. They’ll give advice and support, not from their armchairs, but right there with you in the gardens. If you’re feeling unsure of your gardening ability but confident that you could lead a group of people, you’re the kind of person we’re looking for.

Choice


We curate all of our produce boxes, which means we let our subscribers, stewards, and lead farmers decide, to some extent, what vegetables, fruits, and herbs they receive in their own produce boxes. Don’t like eggplant? We’ll give you more of something else. Want lots of fresh basil to make pesto? We can do that.

Leadership


You don’t just manage a small group of volunteers at one garden. You’re on a team that coordinates all of the growing everywhere. You make big decisions about what we grow, the methods we use to grow, and where we go as a organization. You’re supported by a leadership structure of almost fifty other volunteers as dedicated as you, ready to help you lead a movement to end hunger in Rochester, MN.

Bonuses


From time to time, we have more produce than our subscribers need, so we distribute the extra to our volunteers. We also provide milk, eggs, bread, and other local food items to our subscribers, which lead farmers can sometimes purchase at below-market prices.






FAQ

What if I can’t make it out to the gardens one week?

The short answer is, don’t worry about it. Life gets busy, we understand. Missing a week now and then is no big deal. But, it’s also important to remember that our gardens don’t take time off. They’re always growing and always need attention. We need our lead farmers to be reliable gardeners who show up weekly to help our gardens flourish.

What if the weather is bad?

We’re an outdoor organization; we don’t even have an indoor location. Hot sun, heavy rain, windy days, we’ve learned to accept whatever Mother Earth sends us if the gardens need tending. We protect our processing center with temporary shelters and can usually reschedule a work day if the clouds look too dark.

Can I bring my children during work times?

Please do!

What if I want to cooperate with another person to share the work?

We’ll consider up to three people sharing the job of a lead farmer if they’re willing to coordinate between themselves.

Will my produce box be delivered to my home?

We’ll work hard to make this option available to as many lead farmers as possible, but our priority is making sure our food-insecure subscribers receive their produce boxes every week. If you have mobility issues, let us know.

Do I have to know anything about gardening?

Not at all! We have found that learning together how to garden is the best way to have a rewarding experience. Some of us are master gardeners, some of us have almost no clue what to do, but we work together and have fun, make mistakes and learn from them.

Where are the gardens?

Our gardens are scattered around the city, so we should be able to find one that is close to you. We don’t disclose the location of our gardens until we have met you and gotten you signed up to volunteer.

What if the crops fail and there’s not enough food?

When we have shortages, we find ways to supplement what we have. We partner with organic farms and other backyard gardeners to ensure that we never run out of fresh produce. And, we’ve been known to purchase wholesale right from the farmer’s market just to make sure everyone gets fed.




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