Adeline, one of the Roulant volunteer, chose to write about her experience volunteering in the different programs at Santropol Roulant. This week, join her while she gets her hands dirty at the Ferme du Roulant. See what a morning of peri-urban farming looks like:
The Ferme du Roulant is located about thirty minutes by car from Montreal. Jean-François, Santropol Roulant’s communications coordinator, picked me up early one morning in front of my house to go to the farm together. The Roulant offers carpooling possibilities if you do not have a vehicle – it’s so practical!
The farming shift starts at 8:00 a.m. and usually ends at 12:00 p.m., a total of 4 hours. That morning, we were a dozen or so volunteers headed by the manager, Virginie, and two farm workers, Hayley and Virginie. Once everyone had arrived, we stood in a semi-circle to begin the check in and introductions.
Then, Virginie divided us into two groups – one group that would work in the greenhouse and the other that would work in the fields. I was placed in the second group along with two other volunteers, Fatima and Anda.
Jean-François took us to the fields located just a few steps away from the entrance to the farm. There, we met Hayley, the second farm worker, who was already on the job. She was our mentor throughout the shift. Under her supervision, we set up an irrigation system on several rows of land and we installed tarps so that we could plant cucumbers and zucchinis.
It was the first time that I had done this kind of activity and I have to say that it was very interesting. I certainly learned a lot during these four hours of work. I’m delighted and even proud to have managed to achieve all of this in such a short amount of time.
It is important to emphasize that this is fairly physical work since you alternate between sitting and standing continuously. Fortunately, the team is lovely and caring. We could take breaks as often as we needed. Again, this is one of the things I took away and continue to enjoy about volunteering in agriculture here: there is no performance pressure. Everyone progresses at their own pace and is respectful of that.
When lunch time arrived, we joined the other volunteers so that we could all eat together. Everyone had brought their own picnic, and it felt so good to eat after all of our efforts. This was a well-deserved break! After lunch, a few of the volunteers wanted to go swimming in the lake next door. I went along for the new scenery and to stretch my legs.
Before returning to Montreal, we were able to collect vegetables from the farm to take home. There is always a little reward for the volunteers at Santropol Roulant: it’s lovely!
Review of my experience
What I took away from my volunteer shift at the farm:
- A caring and educational team : The team was fantastic. There was always someone there to help us and answer our questions. It made me feel very comfortable right away.
- Learning about farming techniques : Since this was my first experience working on the farm, I didn’t know how to set up the irrigation system, or even the technique to install the tarps. This was a real discovery for me.
- A relaxed atmosphere : The teaching team, as well as the volunteers, exuded joy and kindness. It was a real pleasure to work alongside them.
- Back to basics : Nature in its purest form! There is nothing better for recharging your batteries than taking a deep breath of fresh air first thing in the morning.
It was a refreshing and enriching morning surrounded by beautiful people. My experience has been more than positive. Without hesitation, I would come back to the farm!
Next week, I’ll be on the Santropol Roulant rooftop for another urban farming shift. See you soon, friends!
Interested in trying a volunteer shift at the farm?
Volunteering at the FarmYou already are a volunteer at the Roulant and wish to volunteer at the farm? Easy! Send a text message with your name to the farm at 438-389-6616 the day before you would like to volunteer.
If you have not volunteered at the Roulant yet we ask you to fill out this form and we will contact you to take part in an information session!
When can I volunteer
Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm.
Don’t forget your lunch and a water bottle!