A workers' cooperative growing food on London's edge in the Lea Valley

Volunteering placements

Alongside our regular ongoing volunteering opportunities, as the growing season gets underway we have a menu of six short-term volunteering placements at Hawkwood. All a brilliant way of getting closer to the growing and community learning heart of what we do:

1. Harvest Hand with Production team (Tuesdays for 12 weeks, 11-5, starting 12 April and will include induction slot).
2. Teaching Assistant for Tuesday (start 26 April. 9.30-4.30 for 12 weeks) and Wednesday (starts 4 May. 9.30-4.30 for 9 weeks) Level 1 courses. Attend a site induction on either Tuesday 12 April, 3.30pm or Wed 13 April, 11am specifically for these opportunities.
3. Language mentor garden placements (Wednesdays for 6 weeks. Start 20 April.) Induction to gardens on 13 April, 11am.
4. Kitchen Support – 6 weeks with possibility to extend (Booking in placements for Wednesdays and Fridays, 10.30-3.30. Looking for Wednesday starts asap) Join site induction on Wed 13 April for this placement, 11am.
5. Seasonal grower volunteering – 12 week commitment to Thursdays. Start dates throughout April – May with specific induction on Thursday 21 April, Thursdays 11-4.
6. Horticulture Buddy Mentor (Fridays for 12 weeks – starts ASAP and throughout April).

These are six different ‘named’ volunteering placements with April starts. More detail including their own specific induction dates and contact emails below:

1. Harvest Hand volunteering placements (x4) Starting Tuesday 12th April for 12 weeks and will include induction slot on the 12th.
A different kind of volunteering opportunity. Hands-on production training at the harvest end of our market gardening work: Tuesdays, 11am-5pm.  Opportunity involves getting closer to our work as you help with plant care linked to harvesting, weighing, quality control and packing of produce. We ask for a regular commitment to help give good training in tasks and predict capacity. It’s a 12 week placement, an opportunity to spend time at the ‘letting go’ end of the growing operation – often regarded as taking us much closer to the plants with some quite specific horticultural training linked to this (lots of systems learning too!). Don’t forget your packed lunch.
Contact:  volunteering@organiclea.org.uk if this could be for you.

2. Teaching Assistant for Tuesday (start 26 April. 9.30-4.30 for 12 weeks) and Wednesday (starts 4 May. 9.30-4.30 for 9 weeks) Level 1 courses: If you have experience of volunteering with us and enjoy supporting people – and want to gain a Level 1 horticulture qualification this could be the opportunity for you as we will waive the fee for the course and you can gain your qualification whilst supporting others. Or if you want to refresh your horticulture knowledge because you already have a Level 1 this too could be the opportunity for you. The voluntary TA role is about supporting the tutor and the learners during the course. With the guidance of the tutor, you will help set up tasks, support learners with the practical tasks in the gardens and help with some straightforward form filling if learners need support. Attend a site induction on either Tuesday 12 April, or Wednesday 13 April specifically for these opportunities.
Contact Debbie on debbie@organiclea.org.uk to register interest.

3. Language mentor garden placements: Wednesdays 10-4, 20th April start for 6 weeks NB: 9am start on 20 April; briefing session for Esol element and induction to gardens at 11am on 13th April.
OrganicLea hosts an Esol (English for speakers of other languages) learning opportunity for those who want to practice English conversation while in the garden. Volunteers will be supported by Esol tutor, Laura Cotton, before and after a morning of volunteering at the Hawkwood site for 6 consecutive Wednesdays. This placement is for 2 volunteers who are interested in combining their own Hawkwood volunteering with the morning gardening session supporting new volunteers who are also practicing English. You will join the English Conversation group at 10am (with the Esol tutor), and then support participants in the gardens from 11-1pm. The Esol language group will leave after lunch. Mentors can then volunteer in the afternoon from 2-4pm as regular horticultural assistant.
Contact volunteering@organiclea.org.uk to express interest in this role.
[Another opportunity will run from Wednesday 22 June for 5 weeks]

4. Get an AQA certificate in Basic Cooking Skills as you also complete a kitchen support placement on either a Wednesday or Friday. 6 weeks with possibility to extend (Booking in placements for Wednesdays and Fridays, 10.30-3.30. Looking for Wednesday starts asap).
Expect good team spirit while you work towards ticking off the AQA skills associated with preparing, serving and closing the kitchen with a meal for up to 60 people. OrganicLea chef Chris Manahan will lead this learning experience – for up to 2 people each Wednesday or Friday.
Contact volunteering@organiclea.org.uk to express interest and arrange induction to the site – opportunity for this is 13 April, 11am.

5. Seasonal grower volunteering on Thursday – 12 week commitment 11-4. Start dates from now with more detailed induction on Thursday 21 April, 11-4! Experience the season’s growing peak on Thursdays. Join a small, but productive volunteering team that makes a longer commitment to horticultural volunteering at Hawkwood. We ask for a 12 week commitment to allow for more specific training in some tasks without horticultural lead presence. Task allocation varies and volunteers are often paired with specific tasks that would be unsuited to larger groups – and need to be completed for the gardens to flourish. Vi and Shannon are the production team members that oversee the site’s activity on Thursdays. There are only 8-10 places overall on a Thursday. Described as one volunteer as: “An opportunity to just get your head down, nose to the soil – and enjoy meeting the same group of volunteers every week!”
Contact volunteering@organiclea.org.uk to express interest.

6.  Horticulture buddy mentor placements: Staggered start opportunities throughout April (Fridays, 10.30-4.30)
Would you like to make supporting others a bigger part of your volunteering?  We currently have up to 5 volunteer learning placement roles that involve partnering with individuals or groups to enable them to participate and build initial confidence in the garden, or ask you to be a ‘mindful presence’ on horticultural and other tasks. These are Friday placements, for 12 weeks (out of 15 week time frame).
Over the 12 weeks you will: Have opportunity to work towards AQA Award – Supporting Volunteers to take part in a community project. ‘The buddy mentor’ placement at Hawkwood offers a structured opportunity to be part of a learning team set up to encourage other volunteers who have support needs – including neurodiversity, physical limitations and recovery from mental ill health.
Contact: activities@organiclea.org.uk for a fuller role description and to arrange induction.

Hope something in the above catches your eyes and curiosity!

With a reminder that we organise more flexible weekly volunteering in the gardens, ‘horticultural assistant’ roles (Wednesday or Friday) and with the box pack (Tuesday or Wednesday). We ask for a mimimum commitment to 6 sessions – does not have to be weekly, after an induction. We hold induction days twice a month. Contact volunteering@organiclea.org.uk to register for the next one.

All the above opportunities are based at our organic food growing site: 12 acres of market garden and woodland edge, on a gentle slope on London’s edge! Do check out where our growing site is. We are right on the edge of Northeast London – transport details here. [The first journey always takes longer than any of the next ones!]

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