FIRST FRUITS FARM FAQ's

what is first fruits farm?

  • Built upon our Christian faith and values, the Farm's ministry serves to be a blessing to anyone in need of food, hope, or spiritual guidance.

  • What began as a backyard project in 1998 for the Bernstein Family to grow food for charity is now the largest nonprofit farm operation in the Mid-Atlantic region (and quite possibly the East Coast) donating 100% of the our fresh produce to feed those in need.

  • The Farm depends upon our volunteer community of thousands each season who help with the harvest and prepare our produce for distribution through our robust network of community partners (currently more than 100 organizations of all sizes), so our healthy food reaches hungry people in the communities they serve.

  • The Farm’s approach to food insecurity makes us a unique solution to fighting hunger, and our work touches multiple areas impacting local agriculture, managing climate change, land preservation, and education.

Where is the farm located?

  • First Fruits Farm is located at 20431 Middletown Road in Freeland, MD 21053. You can find directions here.

When can I volunteer?

  • Volunteer activities for large groups (10+ people) begin in July and run thru October. (Some off-season opportunities or special projects may be available. Contact jody@firstfruitsfarm.org for more information.)

  • Volunteer sessions are scheduled Tuesday-Saturday mornings from 9:00-11:30AM. 

How do I sign up to volunteer?

  • Go to the Farm's online volunteer registration calendar and choose an available date and time that works for your schedule. 

  • Follow the simple registration process and then look for your confirmation email and reminders.

  • All volunteers must complete the online liability waiver before you arrive at the Farm for your volunteer session.

  • Weather is always a factor in our schedule.  You will be notified in case we need to cancel a session due to inclement weather or other inforeseen circumstances.

How do I prepare for my volunteer session?

  • Each volunteer must complete the online liability waiver as part of the registration process prior to arrival.

  • Plan to arrive 5-10 minutes before the start of your session.

  • Dress "farm-friendly" and for the weather - expect to get dirty and wear layers (depending on the wind, it can get chilly in the fall).

  • Closed-toe shoes only - no sandals or flip flops please.

  • Please bring a water bottle and work gloves (we will have drinking water available for you and refills in the fields too).  

  • No experience needed - we will provide on-the-job training!

  • Come prepared with a heart to serve...all of the food that you harvest or the work that you do to care for the Farm while you are on site benefits people in need, each and every day.

How will I know what to do?

  • Don’t worry...we have thousands of volunteers each year, most who have never farmed before or even stepped foot on a farm.

  • We begin the day with a brief orientation in our Volunteer Pavilion where you learn more about the Farm's beginnings and how this ministry has grown through the years to bless those in need. 

  • From there, you either walk or take a wagon ride to your volunteer area for the day, where our staff and volunteer leaders work right along side of you providing all of the instructions you need.

Can my children volunteer?

  • We encourage families to volunteer together at the Farm, and all ages are welcome, as long as they are adequately supervised.

  • We understand that younger children may lose interest in tasks quicker than others, so the Farm also offers hands-on educational experiences for children of all ages. To learn more about these options, check out our Education page.

  • Babies are best in a carrier (strollers can be challenging to navigate through the fields).

  • After volunteering, feel free to explore our nature trails, meet our animals, or check out our discovery garden.

What will we be harvesting?

  • The big question! Our farmers survey our crops and determine the greatest needs each morning. There are many variables that determine what we harvest on any given day (weather, group size/age, crop status, distribution needs, etc.). Thank you for being flexible!

Where does the food go after we harvest it?

  • 100% of the Farm's produce (yes, all of it) is donated to those in need! 

  • The Farm has built a diverse network of now more than 100 distribution partners including food banks, shelters, schools, churches, pantries, and other food providers who serve communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

  • Take a look at our distribution map and the our 2021 Distribution Partners here.

  • If you or someone you know is need of food, contact 211Maryland - 211 is a great resource to help you access basic services and support, and they will also assist in locating a food distribution site near you.  

  • Nonprofits can apply to join the Farm's distribution partner network by completing this online form.

what are some lunch options?

  • You are welcome to bring your lunch and use the picnic tables in our pavilion. We also have nature trails that lead to a beautiful private meadow—bring a picnic blanket and eat there if you choose! (When you register, please leave us a note in the comments section if you would like to stay for lunch, especially if you have a large group.)

  • Check out these local spots to order lunch:

    • Old MacDonald Had a Farm Stand: Farm-fresh boxed lunches available for delivery, and they graciously donate 10% of purchases back to First Fruits Farm.

    • Prettyboy Market: Stop here for delicious fried chicken, the “FFF Breakfast  sandwich," and our favorite coffee cake! (410-357-4367)

    • The Fill’Er Up: Awesome pizza and specials!

How do I plan a group retreat or team-building event?

  • We love to welcome groups for retreats and team-building events as part of the volunteer service experience. Many groups take advantage of our beautiful outdoor setting to come together for a half-day or full-day event that would include your volunteer session in the morning, with facilities available for lunch, meetings, etc. Contact jody@firstfruitsfarm.org for more information.

 

how can I support the Farm? 

  • The Farm is a nonprofit organization and depends on our benefactors to provide the general funding to support the day-to-day operations and ensure we can keep it running and productive. 

  • The need for fresh, healthy produce has increased exponentially, and the number of farms providing healthy, high-quality produce is declining which is why First Fruits Farm plays such a critical role.

  • To support us, please visit our Giving Page. Gifts of all types are welcome and you can make your impact felt throughout the year with a recurring gift on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.

  • Multi-year commitments can be pledged over a 2–5-year period of time. 

  • We welcome legacy gifts made through your estate and encourage you to consult with your attorney or financial advisor to explore all of your options when considering your gift of support to the Farm. 

 

How large is the FFF staff? 

  • The Farm is a lean operation and until 2018 was 100% volunteer-run. It has only been in the last few years the Farm began to carefully invest in a small paid staff. 

  • Our current staff of 7 includes full-time and part-time paid staff members, along with a small number of seasonal farmhands.

  • We continue to rely heavily on dedicated volunteer leaders who assist with the daily operations of the Farm including support for our crops, animals, volunteers, educational programs, maintenance projects, and more.  

 

How can I get more involved and become a volunteer leader? 

  • If you are interested in volunteering regularly and would like to become part of our dedicated Volunteer Leader team who help the staff with all aspects of the farm - contact jeff@firstfruitsfarm.org.

  • We always welcome your time and talents - there’s a place for everyone and we’d love to have you!

How is the Farm preparing for its future? 

  • In 2020, our Board of Directors developed a new strategic plan for 2021-2025 with a vision for the future of the Farm focused on expanding our ability to grow more, give more, and serve more. Goals include:

    • Increase annual crop production by 50% from 2 million to 3 million pounds. 

    • Expand our volunteer community by 50% from 10,000 volunteers annually to 15,000.

    • Enhance our multi-faceted education initiative for students focused on agriculture, nutrition, sustainability, and service.

    • Secure funding to support the Farm's growth, advance our mission to the next level, and ensure our long-term sustainability.