It’s a festive June day at Learning Tree Farm. Children with field trips are tiptoeing in to visit the new baby goats, nibbling the first spring lettuce and spinach in the garden, and laughing on the tire swing. Two school teachers, friends of the farm, are volunteering their first days of summer vacation to revitalize a flower bed at the farm. In addition to those two volunteers, there are at least 30 volunteers in Deloitte Impact Day, 2018 t-shirts.
They are definitely making an impact. Weeds are disappearing from the garden beds. Fresh mulch is being spread at the preschool and around the cucumbers. Truckloads of honeysuckle are being carted away.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this hard work is Chuck Johnson, the person who coordinates Deloitte & Touche LLP Impact Day volunteers for their annual visit to Learning Tree Farm. It’s a hot, humid day and I break a sweat just looking for Chuck, but the weather doesn’t seem to be slowing the volunteers down at all. “It’s just a pleasure to be out of the office and making a difference with all of these great people.” one woman tells me.
Chuck has been volunteering at the farm on Impact Day ever since he began working with Deloitte. Like his colleagues, he enjoys getting outside and making a difference, but he adds, “My favorite part of Impact Day is when there are kids that come out while we are working and we get to see them enjoying the things that we may have just worked on or had a part in maintaining for them.“
Chuck values Impact Day at Learning Tree Farm so much that when they needed a new coordinator, he happily stepped up. His long-term commitment to the farm has enabled him to see not only the immediate differences the volunteers make, but also some of the bigger changes that Deloitte volunteer efforts have made possible.
He tells me that one of his favorite projects was, “taking down the carriage house that was near the house in the rain while we were on site two or three years ago. The rain was putting a bit of a damper on the day, but with some willing co-workers, we took down the shed and were able to keep a lot of the wood and boards in salvageable condition. As it turns out, the farm made this into the restroom structure on site! It was great coming out the following year and seeing that material repurposed and put to good use after the work we put into taking the building down. It is a good lesson in repurposing and conserving materials as well.”
Volunteers like those with the Deloitte Impact team are fundamental to the success of the farm, but Chuck tells me he and his colleagues benefit as well. “I would highly recommend volunteering at Learning Tree Farm for other business groups. It is a good opportunity to get out and give back to a worthy cause and also builds morale of the team as everyone knows they are contributing to the various projects that we see through to fruition while we are on site.”
Indeed, the farm has undergone a wonderful transformation in just this one day. Teachers and students wave to farm educators as their busses pull past the flower bed fresh with bursts of orange and pink and down the newly-trimmed driveway. The grass is cut, trails are groomed, and weed-free garden beds await their next batches of crops. Most of the Deloitte team has left, but a few devoted stragglers work on mending the electric fence.
The huge impact of the Deloitte & Touche LLP Impact Day team will be felt by visitors throughout the coming seasons. We are grateful and already look forward to seeing them when spring returns.