Oxbow Volunteerism: 2020 Recap + 2021 Opportunities!

2020 has been unpredictable, challenging, and all of the other cliché adjectives we hear over and over, but all relate to. While our typical volunteer opportunities weren’t available, we were able to accomplish some big projects this year! We are so pleased to extend gratitude to our volunteers and highlight our achievements! We’re also excited to share what volunteers can look forward to in 2021!

Partner Highlight

At Oxbow, we’ve always taken pride in our relationships with hunger relief partners. But with all of the challenges 2020 presented, we are especially grateful to our gleaning volunteers. We want to take a moment to highlight one of our superstar partners: Hopelink!
Between July and October, Hopelink volunteers harvested over 2,000 pounds of produce from Oxbow’s farm fields, including loads of kale and radishes, all distributed in King and Snohomish counties.

“…it was a truly wonderful season and I’m so glad that we were able to nourish our community with Oxbow’s amazing produce during such a time of need.”  
Elena Lavrushin Hopelink gleaning coordinator

Hopelink promotes self-sufficiency for all members of our community and helps people make lasting change. Their network of critical social services– including housing, transportation, family development, financial assistance, employment programs, adult education, financial literacy training, and five food bank– support more than 63,000 people every year!

“It was a joy to see them every Monday, always in high spirits, ready to work. We cherish Oxbow and Hopelink’s partnership as it helps to build a resilient food system where we are cutting down on waste and keeping good healthy food in our community.”
Melissa Newman Oxbow Farm Sales & Program Coordinator

Join us in supporting Hopelink, or join Hopelink in supporting Oxbow’s mission! Learn more about donating and volunteering on their website: hopelink.org

“…Hopelink and Oxbow have a great partnership; and in this trying summer of 2020 they have worked together and made this more than successful! Gleaning was definitely a place where I could go and just enjoy the company of Elena and the others, dig in the dirt and forget about the troubles this year has brought! I look forward to gleaning in 2021!“ 
2020 Hopelink volunteer

“My experience with gleaning has been a joyful one. Combining my interests in nutrition, social justice, physical activity, and strong women is such a win for me. The shared values, amazing satisfaction of giving back, and the friendships have enriched my life immeasurably. Thank you Hopelink Harvest and Oxbow farm for allowing me to be part of the team.”

2020 Hopelink volunteer



2020 Education Volunteer Projects

In an average year, the Oxbow Education (OxEd) team welcomes all the volunteer support we can get:

  • Naturalists to lead engaging farm field trips
  • Summer Camp volunteers to support young campers
  • Kids’ Farm volunteers to keep the farm field and raised beds growing strong

With safety concerns surrounding COVID this year, we had to drastically reduce our Kids’ Farm volunteer opportunities; but we’re still overflowing with gratitude for those who were able to support our work, helping us accomplish so much in such a challenging season!


Kiwanis Club volunteers proudly pose in front of the new garden shed they purchased and installed at Frank Wagner Elementary in November.


Frank Wagner Elementary School Storage Shed
Oxbow’s multi-year partnership to develop a school garden program at Frank Wagner Elementary reached an exciting milestone this fall: a new storage shed for the garden! Many thanks to the Monroe Kiwanis Club for organizing the effort. The all-volunteer group raised funds to purchase materials, then sent a small team of club members to the school to build a gravel pad and assemble the shed. Y’all are superstars!

Increasing Food Access 
With a steep reduction in on-farm programs this year, much of the produce usually destined for the bellies of young field trip & summer camp participants has instead been shared with community members in need. Huge thanks to the deeply caring and hardworking teachers & administrators, organizations, and community members who have helped keep OxEd connected to ongoing hunger relief efforts throughout King & South Snohomish County. We are proud to collaborate with these local partners to support community members experiencing food insecurity:

Sky Valley Food Bank in Monroe
Green Plate Special in Seattle
Farmer Frog & the East West Food Rescue in Woodinville

We are so grateful for everyone’s efforts and for the opportunities to work together this year. We’re looking forward to more! Read more about our hunger relief efforts with Frank Wagner Elementary in this blog post from July: Growing Gardens, Feeding a Community


4th grade teacher Elizabeth Lovelace shows off her car full of veggie starts grown in her home greenhouse, ready to be shared with the Monroe community. Her ongoing support and leadership has been essential to the Frank Wagner partnership and our many creative pivots to support at-home learning and food access this year.


Kids’ Farm Volunteers
Finally, this fall we welcomed a select few long-term volunteers back to the Kids’ Farm to help with weeding, harvesting, and other farm projects. Many thanks to Stan and Eleanor for helping us test out new volunteer protocols and push through the fall season! Thanks to your efforts, we’re feeling more confident about hosting Kids’ Farm volunteers in 2021.



2020 Restoration Volunteer Projects

We are so thankful to our restoration volunteers, both those who have been able to make it out to Oxbow and those who are standing by until we can once again resume our group efforts. Despite the reduced number of events, we’ve had 29 volunteers donate 174 hours of their time since last December!

This year’s volunteers have helped us restore habitats and get 450 native plants into the ground at Oxbow —and beyond. Last winter we expanded our endeavors beyond Oxbow’s borders and began restoration efforts for the Fall City Floodplain Restoration Project. We had a particularly hardy group of Cub Scout families that hiked in heavy gear around floodwaters to get to the restoration site back in January. Their work was shored up by the Cedarcrest High School Environmental Club in February.


Cedarcrest High School Environmental Club members celebrate after a muddy day of planting in Fall City this February.


We missed our volunteers dearly during the spring and summer months, but were able to welcome small household groups and individuals back at the end of summer. One particular sweltering summer day stands out: A tenacious household of three planted 125 cottonwood trees that needed to go into the ground ASAP! We’re so grateful for their hard work.

As we moved into the fall, we began piloting a Conservation Volunteer position and a new sign-up system for volunteers that want to help out on a regular schedule. We are thankful to Eleanor for helping us work out the quirks and for being such a stellar volunteer, putting in over 50 hours of volunteer work just since August!


Dawn (left) and Eleanor (right) maintain social distancing while holding the same huge blackberry root. It’s longer than our trucklet!



What’s Coming Up

We are well into planting season for our restoration work and we can use your help! We’ve planned to plant 11,000 native plants this year at Oxbow, in Duvall, and in Fall City! You and your household can sign up to come out for a private volunteer work party that fits your schedule. Just sign up using our online form on our volunteer page and your friendly restoration team will be in touch.

In January (depending on COVID regulations), we will be inviting volunteers to sign up to support spring education programming, and will officially post our Conservation Volunteer position for those who want to restore habitats on a regular basis. Gleaning will resume with our hunger relief partners Hopelink, FareStart, and Jewish Family Service next summer. 
Thank you everyone and have a wonderful and safe winter season!