Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Worth It?

As most of you are aware, I have been volunteering at a market garden since May.  Come rain or shine I have showed up and set to whatever task needs to be done; seed sowing, watering, planting out, digging, raking in mulch etc.

Today the opportunity came up to harvest some of the produce.  The rain was falling heavily and I arrived with a new volunteer to gather what we could in the short space of time we had.  We stayed outside in the rain for 2 hours harvesting french beans and collected two crates full.  Soaked to the skin we took the produce to the cottage to be weighed and graded.

I noticed that various other vegetables had been previously harvested and asked whether or not they were for sale.  I was offered a carrier bag of mixed produce for £5.00 (pictured above). This was the standard price for any one who happened to be in the vicinty who wanted to purchase some farm produce.  I asked if I could have a discount as I volunteered at the market garden and was told that the bag would have more in it than the standard bag.  I am not sure that my £5.00 was money well spent as most of the bag contained swiss chard, 5 courgettes, broad beans and an assortment of purple and green french beans.

I am feeling a little aggrieved and cannot shake off my feeling of worthlessness.  For all the time I have spent volunteering at the market garden, I could have concentrated on my own garden and grown my own vegetables rather than the few beans and tomatoes I have managed.  What is the incentive for me to offer my unpaid labour when I get little in return?  I am seriously contemplating giving up my voluntary work there.  Am I being unreasonable or do you think that I should have got some sort of concession?  Please let me know your views as I want to try and make sense of the situation.  Thank you!


  1. That was a disgrace Simone, I don't think you should have paid at all as you were a volunteer. Standing in the rain for 2 hours harvesting their produce only to be charged £5 for it, I'm angry for you!!!!
    V x

  2. For starters you must get rid of that feeling of worthlessness, Simone. You have worked hard at your volunteering and should be proud of all you have achieved. I think that the amount of the vegetables you received wasn't worth £5 and it would have been nice if all volunteers could be offered a discount when they buy a bag or box of vegetables, just as a little thank you:)

  3. You are not worthless, and the people who operate the market garden are completely out of order, charging you so much for what you have helped them to produce. What are they thinking of?

  4. Simone, when you began volunteering, why did you do it? Presumably it wasn't for free vegetables. Was it about learning new skills, or meeting like minded people, or spending time in the fresh air? Whatever the motivation was, I urge you to think about whether your volunteering has delivered on that score. If the answer is no, then quit, concentrate on your own garden and be done with them. But if the answer is yes, try hard to get past your aggravation. Maybe you can negotiate a 'volunteer rate' for produce in the future, when you are feeling calmer about what does seem like them taking the mickey. But don't chuck the baby out with the bathwater if you are enjoying the volunteering for other reasons.

    1. Hi Ali, I still volunteer at the vineyard and have done so for 2 years. The vineyard offer Health and Safety Training and First Aid courses which came in especially useful when a volunteer collapsed in the snow earlier in the year. At the vineyard people are valued no matter what their level of skills and we are offered training on vine management throughout the year. There are only a handful of people who volunteer at the market garden and many of them never return. Maybe they feel as I do.

  5. I think they are taking adavatage of you, and you now have the know how to to work in your own garden and receive the benefit of your own hard word, and then you can share it with you friends and family.

  6. You are not Worthless. Yes......I think I would have felt the same way, come rain or shine, you turned up and did what you had to do without question. You should have been allowed to choose and take what you would like.
    Julie xxxxxxxx

  7. I feel sad for you, Simone, because you had been feeling so good about volunteering. If your work in the vineyard is more satisfying and appreciated, maybe you should concentrate on that and your own garden? I'm late commenting on the post, and perhaps by now you have sorted it out.
    Worthless? Far from it!!! xx


Comments are moderated on this blog so it may be a while before your comment appears. I will try to leave a response to your comment where possible. Thank you so much for reading!