A day at Stichting De Groentedeler

You probably already figured that we work hard throughout the season. We harvest, rinse and sort all vegetables that we donate to Voedselbank Leiden. Yet, people often wonder what a day at Stichting De Groentedeler looks like. What do we do during the season? And what activities are organized around it? You can read more about it in this blog.


Our volunteers

Working together to great satisfaction

During the harvest season, volunteers of Stichting De Groentedeler are actively assisting in the community supported agricultural garden Bij Mei. Some are there weekly, others once every two weeks. With a common goal in mind, they work hard to provide the best vegetables to all customers of Voedselbank Leiden. By spending time together in the garden, a bond is created. Even when someone is away for a holiday or other obligations, there is always someone ready to step in. No matter what happens, their work in the garden continues.


Before the season starts

Plowing, planting and sowing

Before the season starts, most of our volunteers aren’t actively engaged yet. However, much needs to be done during this period. The soil has had time to rest during the winter, but it needs preparation in the spring.

Mariska Verhulst, owner of Bij Mei, drafts the plans for the upcoming season. She decides which vegetables she wants to grow and where they will be grown. Together with her team, she starts preparing the ground. They turn and fertilize the soil, remove weeds and so on. Once the soil is ready, they proceed with planting and sowing according to her plan.

Meanwhile, the board of Stichting De Groentedeler uses this period to attract new volunteers who can help us during the harvest. We create a schedule and ensure a proper distribution of tasks throughout the season.


During the season

A day at the garden

From the moment Mariska signals us that it is time to harvest, mostly around mid-April to early May, a group of four volunteers gathers in the garden every Tuesday. Energized and motivated, they delve into the fertile soil. They harvest, rinse and portion the vegetables. Everything is carefully placed into dedicated delivery boxes, ready for pickup by the volunteers of Voedselbank Leiden. It is physically demanding work, but our volunteers do it with utter dedication and joy!


8:30 AM – Time to harvest!

At 8:30 AM, volunteers gather in the garden and start harvesting. On extremely hot summer days, they often initiate to arrive even earlier to beat the heat.


10:30 AM – Voedselbank Leiden picks up our harvest

At 10:30 AM, the big bus of Voedselbank Leiden arrives. Volunteers help to load all the boxes with fresh vegetables, which will be distributed among their grateful customers.

10:45 AM – Coffee with all volunteers

Once Voedselbank Leiden has departed, Mariska’s team and all volunteers enjoy a cup of coffee during a well-deserved break.


11:00 AM – Garden maintenance

Maintenance is just as important as harvesting. After the coffee break, volunteers assist in keeping the beds clean. A rewarding task that results in a neat weed-free vegetable bed, ready for new crops to grow.


12:00 PM – Time to go home

Around 12:00 PM, most volunteers head home. Some stay a bit longer to finish the last tasks, but the main work is done by noon.

According to this schedule, a total of 8,000 portions of fresh vegetables were harvested in the season of 2023. A fantastic result for which we are extremely grateful to our volunteers, Mariska and her team!


After the season

Preparing for winter

Even after the season, there’s still much to be done. Once the last vegetables are harvested, the garden is prepared for winter. Vegetable beds are cleaned, and if necessary, turned over to let the soil rest.

Our board members continue to look for funds, ensuring the continuance of our activities over the next season. This is the time to draw up the budget, together with an estimation of the number of vegetables that can be grown next year. We plan, consult Mariska and slowly prepare for a new season to come.

Join us in the garden!

Would you like to contribute by helping in the garden during the season of 2024? That would be great! We can always use an extra pair of hands. Affinity with greenery and agriculture is useful, but experience is not required. Our more experienced volunteers will gladly explain what needs to be done and how to harvest the various crops.

I want to help!