Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

May 30, 2006 > Volunteer at the Ardenwood Historic Farm

Volunteer at the Ardenwood Historic Farm

by Vidya Pradhan

If you've ever yearned for a ticket to the good old days and the simple life, then here is an opportunity right in your neighborhood. In our own backyard is a place where time appears to have stopped a century ago. With 205 acres of farmland in the middle of a bustling suburb and a 19th century farmhouse, Ardenwood Historic Farm is a lovingly preserved testament to the uncomplicated life of yore. And right now, it needs your help. The farm is looking for volunteers to help with the various chores on the farm and interact with eager visitors.

Volunteers, called docents, undergo a training program conducted by the East Bay Regional Pak District (EBPRD). Training lasts two days and covers the activities at the farm and the Patterson House, the historic home located at the farm.

Some of the exciting activities offered this summer are corn shelling and grinding, rope-making, wheat milling and wool spinning. For the animal lovers, there are plenty of chores involving the small animals at the farm such as sheep goats and rabbits. Volunteers also help out with children's crafts and seasonal tours.

TCV caught up with Rita Locaria and Silva Dudgeon, two docents at the country kitchen, one of the most popular spots at the farm with visitors. Because Fire Truck Day was being celebrated at the farm, Rita, Silva and other docents were busy baking Dalmatian cookies and red-hot cookies. Rita is a new docent but has been a long time visitor at the farm, bringing her kids and grandkids over the years. When she realized there was an opportunity to actually work at the farm, she jumped at it. P.J. Lewis, another docent, was helping out with some of the activities for kids. P.J. has been volunteering for a couple of years, realizing her long cherished dream of living on a farm.

All docents dress in turn-of-the-century costumes fashioned by themselves. The women wear long sleeved shirts and ankle length dresses while the men wear Levi's, suspenders and a collarless Henley shirt. Beyond the broad specifics dictated by the farm, there is a lot of creativity allowed in the costumes with P.J.'s dress reflecting the patriotic fervor of the stars and stripes. The costumes are particularly apt at the Patterson House, where docents give guided tours of the lovingly preserved farmhouse. Volunteers at the house get a small pin in the shape of the house with commemorative plaques added for each year of service. Some volunteers have earned so many of the plaques; they almost list to one side when they wear them!

So if life on a farm is what gets you excited, there is no better way to live out your dream than to volunteer at the Ardenwood Historic farm. You can make a difference to a child's life while learning new farmyard skills. Free admission to the immediate family is another incentive to join and, best of all, you will meet and work with a group of talented, creative people for an enriching experience this summer. All that is required is a time commitment of 4-8 hours per month, mostly on weekdays though in the busy season, docents are also needed for Thursdays and Fridays.

Contact Christina Garcia, Volunteer Coordinator at the farm at (510) 796-0199 if you are interested. The rangers at the farm could really use your help. Training days are as follows:

Tuesday, June 27, 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 29, 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont.

Farm Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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