The purpose of the volunteer program at Welland is to both increase food access by maintaining a productive Orchard using organic, holistic orcharding practices, and increase food literacy by educating volunteers on fruit tree care, harvest and use. We hope to make this process fun and engaging, and to this end have a few ways that volunteers can get involved in depending on what they’re looking for and what their time commitment is.

Ways to get involved:

Drop-in work parties!

These are a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with the Orchard, meet new people, and learn a bit about fruit trees, pollinators or soil building. There’s a low commitment level, you can just come when you have a free Sunday. Tasks vary with the season, but generally work parties are family friendly times to come and pitch in on things like mulching, weeding, fruit thinning, or harvest; each time is a little bit different.

Volunteer work parties are every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month from March to October (except holiday weekends). In the spring & fall we meet in the afternoon to take advantage of warmer afternoons, and in the summer we meet in the morning before it gets too hot to work! Dates and times for 2017 are as follows:

Sundays, March 5th & 19th, April 2nd & 23rd, May 7th & 21st from 1 pm to 4 pm

Sundays, June 4th & 18th, July 16th, August 20th from 10 am to 1 pm

Sundays, September 17th, October 1st & 15th, November 5th from 1 pm to 4 pm

To stay up-to-date with times & activities for the drop-in work parties, sign up for our email list by sending a message to our Coordinator at welland@lifecyclesproject.ca, and/or ‘like’ our Facebook page and keep an eye out for upcoming events.

Tree Care Apprentices!

This program is for folks who really want to zero in on learning about specific aspects of fruit tree care, such as nutrition, pest & disease management and pruning. These volunteers will be mixing and applying holistic sprays, pruning trees and monitoring diseases & pests according to the season. They will be working closely with the Coordinator to implement the holistic tree care plan for the Orchard, which is based on the book The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits & Berries the Biological Way by Michael Phillips (book not provided).

Apprentices meet 1-2 times per month on a set day during the week (to be determined, based on applicants schedules), and are required to commit for at least a three month period from February to October. There is a simple application here. Please submit an application by Feb 28th 2017. For more questions about this volunteer opportunity please email the Coordinator at welland@lifecyclesproject.ca

Orchard Stewards!

These are folks who are interested in diving into in a specific aspect of the Orchard for at least one season. This could be anything from compost building, to heritage collection documentation, hosting tours or school groups, or helping plan community events! Or, if you just want to come by and water the flowers every week that is fantastic too! More potential roles are listed below, but let your imagination go. Is there something that really excites you at the Welland Orchard? Get in touch and we’ll do our best to support you.

Stewards will usually operate with some degree of leadership and autonomy, depending on the area of focus and experience of the volunteer. We ask that Stewards are prepared to commit to their area of focus for at least one full season. Stewards will work with the Orchard Coordinator to define their role and ensure it is fulfilled. If this is something that sounds like a good fit for you, please fill the application form here and send it to the Orchard Coordinator at welland@lifecycles.ca.

Potential Stewardship Roles:

Tree Nursery Focus: Help with grafting, keep nursery weeded, ensure ID tags attached, regular sucker pruning, check irrigation, maintain fencing, sow cover crops, fertilize as needed, keep an inventory of successful grafts and rootstocks that can be re-grafted.

Native Pollinators: Work with Brian (current steward) to care for pollinators, collect information, provide educational content.

Orchard Management: Perform general fruit tree care & maintenance, participate in pruning, pest & disease management, tree staking, holistic nutrition.

Pruning Crew: Develop skills in fruit tree pruning by attending workshops and regularly volunteering to complete spring & summer pruning in the orchard.

Heritage Collection: Work with John (current steward) to document, identify and evaluate heritage collection. This could include research, developing appropriate signage, holding apple tastings, and making recommendations to the Orchard Coordinator for varietal propagation.

Infrastructure: Work with Rob (current steward), Orchard Coordinator and Parks Supervisor to identify infrastructure priorities, seek out material donations and complete infrastructure upgrades or new builds as needed.

Educational Programming: Work with Orchard Coordinator to host tours and work parties for youth & school groups throughout the spring, summer and fall. Assist in the development of materials for interpretive displays.

Communications: Assist in telling the story of the Welland Legacy Park & Community Orchard. Skills in graphic design, communications, social media, photography, videography can be put to use in educating the local, regional and national community about Welland.

Event Planning & Hosting: Work with the Orchard Coordinator to brainstorm, plan and host fun community events like picnics, music in the park and volunteer appreciation events.