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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’ll consider up to three people sharing the job of a lead farmer if they’re willing to coordinate between themselves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Someone will contact you soon with the next steps.
Join our volunteer labor union, getting your hands dirty on our farming collective or working behind the scenes to lead and organize.Volunteer
We need in-kind donations of soil, compost, hand tools, small-scale farming equipment, deer fencing, tarps, landscaping fabric, and running, serviceable vehicles (pickups and cargo vans). Consider making an in-kind donation today.Donate Tools
Become a donor-activist, either giving a recurring monthly donation and/or also developing a direct relationship with our food-insecure subscribers through the Alliance.Join
We are always looking for new backyards to convert into large-scale gardens. If you have a flat, sunny area of 600 square feet or larger within the city limits of Rochester that you would like us to consider as a farm plot, let us know.Apply
If you have an existing large-scale garden that you manage yourself and would like to donate excess produce, or you would like us to consider building a large-scale garden for you that you would plant and tend on your own (without the help of volunteers), consider becoming a Garden Partner.Apply
Our gardens need fencing to keep our pests, irrigation to keep our plants consistently watered, equipment and supplies for our volunteers, storage, rain barrels, compost bins, and safety equipment to meet the challenges of COVID-19. Consider a donation to support the building of a new farm plot, or create a fundraiser to enlist your friends, family, and/or coworkers to help.Donate
Rochester Area Foundation
Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation