At 6:30pm last Thursday evening, I drove to work. Normally, I’d be a little disgruntled to be going into the office after hours, but I jumped in my car and pulled up to 10 Sims Avenue with a smile on my face. Before I was even inside the building, I was greeted by one of our devoted volunteers in the parking lot. When we entered the food hub for Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s Volunteer Appreciation Night, a hum of chatter and music hung in the air.
The next two hours were joyous; volunteers from across Farm Fresh’s various programs gathered alongside staff and board members to celebrate all those who donate their time, energy, and ideas to help our organization to not only run smoothly, but to thrive. Volunteers who wake up at 5am to assist with Market Mobile’s packline mingled with folks who glean produce for Hope’s Harvest’s hunger relief initiatives, and chatted with volunteers who engage with youth at Farmers Markets through our Community Education programming — all over a delicious dinner catered by Harvest Kitchen. Volunteers toured the building, played veggie-themed trivia, and went home with a farmers market tote bag (designed by Frog & Toad) of local goodies including Rhed’s Hot Sauce, Beautiful Day Granola, and Anchor Toffee.
As the last few volunteers trickled out and we broke down the tables and chairs, I realized I was still smiling. The night left me in a state of deep gratitude for the kindness and commitment that our volunteers put forth. Though it’s only August, Farm Fresh RI volunteers have already donated nearly 1,000 hours towards implementing our various programs in 2022. And so far this year, Hope’s Harvest has moved over 76,000 pounds of produce from local farms to Rhode Island hunger relief agencies, feeding over 35,000 people each month.
These are huge accomplishments! But again, it’s only August. There is still much work to be done — more boxes to pack with Market Mobile, more veggies to pick with Hope’s Harvest, more underserved youth to mentor at Harvest Kitchen, and more community members of all ages to connect with nutritious local food through Farmers Markets and Community Education. And after last night, after seeing how many people believe in the mission of Farm Fresh RI, I know we will continue to get this work done!
Volunteers, we are endlessly thankful for you! See you in the coolers, in the fields, and at the markets.
Gleaning Associate, Hope’s Harvest
If you’re interested in getting involved as a volunteer with Farm Fresh Rhode Island, check out our volunteer page here: farmfreshri.org/volunteer