By Jonathan Crosson
I have always appreciated the fact that Gate 15 provides employees with paid time off to contribute to the communities in which we live. I sit at my desk behind a computer for most of my daily work. In contributing to my community, I often try to do some good old-fashioned physical labor. For one, it provides some much needed exercise. Secondly, I grew up doing a lot of physical labor, so I enjoy it. As I was thinking about what to do this year, my wife told me about a volunteer opportunity she thought I would enjoy. The opportunity was on a farm. I was immediately interested. I have always loved being and working on a farm as it takes me back to my childhood. My grandparents lived on a small farm. I always took pleasure in going to visit them and being able to help with one of the many chores of the day. I think back and cherish those times that are long behind me now. So, I looked at their website and was very impressed by the mission and decided to give it a try. I chose to volunteer at First Fruits Farm in Freeland, MD.
First Fruits Farm is a non-profit Christian ministry that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to local food banks, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other food providers. They started in 1998 and have harvested over 18 million pounds of fruits and vegetables to share with these entities. The farm moved to their current location in 2019 and sits on 203 acres.
Upon arrival, I met with the other volunteers in a building at the farm. The farm manager met us when it was time to begin. He told us that our project was to clear out the final greenhouse at the farm for the season. The greenhouse was 30’ x 100’. We had approximately 12 volunteers to take on the task. The greenhouse was full of tomato plants. Our job was to pick the remaining edible tomatoes and then tear down the plants that were strung and tied to stakes for stabilization. Once we removed all the string and stakes from the tomato plants, a skid loader came through and pushed the plants out of the greenhouse. Our final task was to remove all the ground fabric and stakes that held it to the ground. It was a long, fun day.
First Fruits Farm provides a big impact throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. None of this would be possible without the few staff members, generous donors, along with thousands of volunteers working together to help feed the hungry. I am grateful to Gate 15 for giving me the opportunity to serve my community and help others. I believe I found a place with a mission that is close to my heart in serving my community for years to come.