It's not unusual to find college student Holly Josephs knee-deep in fertile soil at Crossroads Farm in Malverne. Or electrical engineer Victor Perez building raised beds. Biology professor Carol St. Angelo is probably yanking weeds.
This particular scene is rooted in familiarity -- just ask any of the 150 active volunteers who dedicate hundred of hours seasonally to the revived three-year-old farm run by the conservation nonprofit Nassau Land Trust. With only five employed staffers on the 4.5 acre farm, director Meaghan Corcoran says the majority of the work needed for a successful growing season falls on volunteers.
"Right now, corn is a pretty hot item," says Josephs, 19. The Bethpage resident volunteers four days a week when she's not off at school, arriving at 10 a.m. to prep the farm stand for its opening. "So much of the setup time is spent displaying the corn."
The farm stand sells seasonal produce grown there -- such as carrots and tomatoes -- but also organic goods such as honey from nearby growers.
When Josephs finishes at the farm stand, she heads outside to harvest crops, plant more seeds and work in the field -- and she's not the only one pulling weeds.
"Weeding can be nice, let me tell you," says St. Angelo, 52, of Malverne. "It can be very relaxing."
On another day, Perez, 39, of Valley Stream is working on raised beds needed to transplant seedlings from the greenhouse. "Every day is different," says Perez, who usually helps out on the farm two days a week before heading to his job. "I get more involved with nature, and that's what I absolutely like."
THE CHORES "Volunteers come in every category you could think of," says Rick White, 55, a Nassau Land Trust board member from Malverne who also helps out at the farm. Retiree Bruce Travins, 70, of West Hempstead, volunteers for perhaps the most specialized duty of all: beekeeper.
When he's not checking on the hives or collecting honey, Travens, a retired educator, is teaching younger volunteers about the nature of bees.
Other regular duties include -- but are not limited to -- mowing the lawn, tilling the fields, making and painting garden labels, sowing seeds and working the farm stand's register.
VOLUNTEER PERKS Sure, volunteers often are invited to take home past-prime produce and small samples of freshly harvested crops, "but we don't have an official rewards program yet," says Corcoran.
For many, the rewards are intangible.
"I've had a wonderful experience volunteering on the farm," says Leland Jacob, 63, of East Rockaway.
The retired import specialist spends a few hours a week at Crossroads and leaves with "a sense of accomplishment -- or what I would label as a good feeling of tiredness."
WHEN | WHERE Volunteer group training and work sessions at noon Saturdays, 480 Hempstead Ave., Malverne. Email Kaiti Pulice at email@example.com for other dates.
INFO 516-881-7900, crossroads-farm.org