Workshare Membership Program
For those interested in more than occasional volunteering, workshares commit to a set number of hours each week in exchange for a discounted CSA share and available vegetable seconds. Each season we invite a select group of people to participate in this rare opportunity for hands-on learning about all aspects of certified organic farming in Central Texas.
“I became a workshare member for 2 reasons:
1.) I have always been interested in eating well. I appreciate healthy food and tasty food! During the summer before I joined the Green Gate CSA, I participated in a Community Dance Intensive training in New Orleans (with Urban Bush Women) which was focused on food and health. This was my introduction to the locally grown food and community grown food, and I was inspired.When I returned to Austin I sought out a farm that had a CSA program, and was particularly drawn to Green Gate because of their interest in community education and celebrations.
2.) At the time I was working as a dancer and a caterer, so I was excited to have the opportunity to eat locally grown veggies at a discounted rate, AND have the opportunity to gain some hands on knowledge about how to cultivate my own veggies. During my time at Green Gate I started my first garden at home.
I loved the communal aspects of Green Gate. I met so many interesting people from a wide variety of backgrounds. This was probably my favorite aspect of volunteering at Green Gate. But I also really loved getting my hands dirty and finding a deep, meditative rhythm in the fields.
Since I left the Green Gate CSA (only because I now work at Urban Roots and can grab all the free veggies I could ever want), I have continuously recommended people to Green Gate. Anyone interested in really learning about farming, anyone looking for a field trip for a group of students, anyone looking to connect with farm folks and enjoy a fun event on the farm, anyone hoping to get quality veggies, an educational introduction to farming, and build community — I send them all to Green Gate!”
— Leigh Gaymon-Jones, Director of Operations, Urban Roots
Each season we invite a select group of people — like Leigh quoted above — to participate in our Workshare Program. This is a rare opportunity for hands-on learning about all aspects of certified organic farming in Central Texas. At our farm, you can learn about raising vegetables, flowers, herbs, livestock as well as help at our farm stand and support community events like our annual plant sale, classes, and camps. Read on to learn more…
What is involved with a Workshare Membership?
Workshare members commit to working 4-6 hours per week in exchange for receiving a free vegetable share. Workshare members also have access to “seconds” (imperfect, yet still edible vegetables – this is what farmers eat) if larger quantities are desired.
We do our best to keep your work varied. It’s likely you will spend some time planting in the greenhouse and fields, harvesting and processing vegetables, preparing the member shares for pick up, and/or setting up the farm stand.
Workshare members are critical to the success of the farm. They help Green Gate Farms offer the highest quality vegetables, flowers and herbs possible. We depend upon you to fulfill your contract as a committed workshare member.
Do I need gardening or farming experience?
Nope, you just need to be willing to learn and work at a fast pace!
What’s the difference between a volunteer and a workshare member?
Volunteers come to the farm and stay as long as their schedule allows. Participants receive vegetable seconds after working for four hours, as available.
Workshare members commit to a shift, coming the same day each week for 4 hours throughout the length of the season (seasons are typically 10 weeks). Workshare members work once a week (or every other week) during any season.
While volunteers are always welcome here, we put our energies into training our workshare members and advancing their goals. For instance, a workshare member who wanted to become a farmer acquired enough skills here that we gave eventually gave her a field for her own use. Likewise, many of our incredibly talented full-time Farm Managers began their careers here as volunteers, then workshare members.
Can I change my workshare schedule? What if I have to miss a shift?
We ask that you commit to the same day each week so that we can count on your contribution, and can assign tasks according to your interests, when possible. If you need to change your schedule, let us know that you have traded shifts with another workshare member.
Can I split a workshare membership with a friend/family member?
Yes, you can arrange to alternate with another person. Please keep in mind that you will be trained on our processes, so if someone new shows up just once, that slows everyone down. Splitting a workshare works well if the person you are sharing with comes on a regular basis.
What expectations does Green Gate Farms have of workshare members?
The most important thing to remember is that we are working. Farmers work fast and multi-tasking is the rule. Chatting is fine as long as you do it while doing another activity. It’s important that you focus on the task at hand and refrain from using telephone/electronic gadgets.
Do workshare members receive benefits other than discounted, high-quality food?
Yes. We want to help you achieve your goals – whether it’s gardening, farming, or community building. As we get to know you and your interests, we’ll gladly share contacts and resources. In addition, you can attend farm-sponsored events at no cost. You will be invited to member events and will receive advance notice of special events/jobs in the local farming community. You will meet other fascinating people who share your interests.
Can I bring my children during my shift? How about my dog?
We prefer that you don’t bring children. We must work quickly and children, even older, self-directed children, can be distracting. Ditto for dogs.
That said, we are currently seeking someone to run a Parents Cooperative. If this can be arranged, then families can bring their children while a volunteer Parent monitors the kids in the Children’s Garden. Let us know if you’re interested in taking the lead on this, firstname.lastname@example.org.
When do workshare members begin work?
Workshare membership shifts are typically every morning, 8:30 – 12:30. Depending on the time of year, we may also have needs for additional hands during shifts later in the day. At our urban farm (8310 Canoga Ave) help is needed every day (including Sundays!) and especially on days when our farm stand is open and when members pick up their food: Tuesday, Friday, and Saturdays.
At our River Farm (about 5 miles west of Bastrop in Utley) help is needed Monday-Saturday, mornings are preferred; however, help is sometimes needed in the afternoons, too. Participating in the work at our River Farm is a great experience for folks who’d like to have their own farm one day because we started everything from scratch just a few years ago. No shortage of fencing, building, infrastructure projects and plenty of planting and harvesting. Workers are welcome to picnic/swim in the Colorado River after their shifts.
How do I get started?
Workshare members are selected after volunteering at the farm. This helps ensure that both you and the farm are a good fit. We host Farm Tours/Orientations on Tuesday mornings 10:00-11:00 and Saturdays, 12:00-1:00. Please fill out our online volunteer form and send us an email to let us know when you would like to come. During the tour, you’ll get a clearer picture of all the work that goes into our farm and what some of your duties may be as a Workshare. Please call us if you are unable to attend the Orientation but would still like to work. We will do what we can to meet with you at another time, 512.484-2746.
What do I need to bring when I work at the farm?
Please bring a snack and plenty of water; wear a hat and covered feet/legs, and tools are never a bad idea.
Over the years, we’ve spent a small fortune loaning tools to volunteers who fail to return them. PLEASE RETURN YOUR TOOLS!
Thank you for your commitment to local organically grown food. Thank you for being part of the solution!
Thanks for your interest in our Workshare Membership Program! Before you come out to the farm, please complete an online application and plan on attending one of our Farm Tours.
Farm Tours are every Saturday [12pm-12:30pm]. Cost is $10/person to get oriented with the farm and the type of work we do. This gives volunteers the opportunity to meet the farm manager and discuss their schedule preferences, and whether or not they fit with the farm’s needs.