Free being A Volunteer: An experience from Canada

Ly Quoc Dang
Y-Farm Coordinator
PhD Fellow in York University

I love farming, farmers, gardens, trees and all kinds of things that relate to nature and ecosystem. I grow up in the rural areas, my mom and my dad are farmers, their parents are farmers and my grandma and grandfathers were farmers too. I have three brothers and one sisters, three of them are farmers in my homeland Soc Trang of Vietnam, where I grow up and live so far.

I love botanical garden, I used to visit many around the countries where I used to visit. My mom and I try to develop one where is located in our home. My best memory is UBC Botanical Garden in Vancouver of Canada, when I first visited Canada last 2014 as Junior Fellow. It is wonderful, opened my eyes and inspired me a lot of how and why I encourage myself to be as planning one garden in my community. When I am in Toronto, North America, I try to look Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG) in order to visit and learn. I suppose that isis one of my destination while I stay and study in the city.

When I look and visit around the website of the botanical garden to find some information, I found many interesting events and activities, one of those is volunteer opportunity for Farmer Market, which is organised one time per week on Thursday during summer, fall and winter seasons.

The market takes place year round, visitors come to choose the freshest, healthiest foods, and meet organic vendors in one of Toronto’s most beautiful gardens. They’ll find salad greens all winter, vegetables, delicious ready-to- eat foods, free-range eggs and chicken, grass-fed beef, pork, lamb and chevon, cheeses, yoghurt and kefir, maple syrup, jams, honey, all-natural personal care products, soaps and candles, dried fruits and nuts, olive oil, kombucha and kimchi, oils and vinegars, breads, tempting sweets and savouries, gluten-free baked goods, and organic VQA wines.

To myself, being volunteer is great opportunities that we must and try in your life even when you are students, officer, professional and retirement. In Canada, I observe that different kind of activities and works are encouraged unlike generation and gender identities. For some instances, an old generation will be volunteers for some works that do not use much energy. In contrast, young generation as students in the schools or universities, they will be working in energising their body, they want to be more active, more moving and and under pressures.

For the volunteer position that I registered, I am responsible for good communication skills in order to transfer some information from farmer market, programmes and activities from TBG and instruction to visitors and customers. I was counted number of visitors, there is 263 people (not many) who visits the market from 1:45 to 4:00 pm on Sept 20th, 2017. Most of them are middle and old generation, are women. They come the market to buy meat, vegetable, fruit, bee and other needs.

Another volunteer, she is retired women, she used to be teacher in elementary school and she is from United Kingdom, but she lives in Canada for long time. She is currently volunteering as responsibility to explain and helping some visitors who would like to learn about taking care of plants, crop and garden at their houses, she inspired me a lot how to be.

If you are free, please to be volunteer!

Toronto, 23/9/2017

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