Last November, the Friends of Ambler Farm (FOAF) celebrated its 10th year anniversary with a gala benefit at Silver Spring Country Club. Now, the FOAF is taking a very active step toward moving Ambler Farm into its next decade. They have launched a survey to get feedback from the community about how people use the farm to help make those decisions.
“The Friends of Ambler Farm put out a survey in 2005, which was just about 11 years ago, and at the time it was very helpful. But obviously we have grown tremendously since then. A survey would help us get a poll on how the communities use the farm. And we’ve done a lot of growing so it seemed like the right time,” explains Robin Clune, executive director of Ambler Farm.
Indeed, the farm has grown in the last few years, not only physically by increasing the amount of produce and plants grown on the Farm, as well as welcoming new animals, but also programmatically, with new programs and initiatives. The Raymond Ambler white farm house is currently being renovated to eventually house offices as well as educational and program space. All of that has prompted the FOAF to want to make sure that the Farm continues to serve the public.
“What we are trying to find out is, Why do people come to the farm? What do they do at the farm? How often do they come to the farm—or why don’t they come to the farm? We would love it if some people who aren’t aware of the farm or maybe don’t make it over there, if they could also fill out the survey because we love to learn why they aren’t there. We also are looking for what the community would like to see at the farm. Would it be more educational programs, for adults? More things for kids? More social gatherings or events? Or perhaps there are some ideas from people out there that we just haven’t thought of and we would love to hear everything, even if they aren’t familiar with it if they could just share that with us as well, Clune adds.
A goal of the team that put the survey together was to be able to access answers from a wide swath of the community.
“We are always looking to make sure we are meeting, if not exceeding, all the needs of the entire community. A lot of people come to the farm to walk their dogs, or they come for field trips, or of course Ambler Farm Day, we really would like the entire community—seniors, couples whose kids are out of school, or even with teenagers who maybe don’t come to the farm as much, we’d love to get everybody’s input. We’d like to make the farm accessible to everybody. It’s really one of Wilton’s treasures and we want to make sure everyone feels that way.”
Another objective of the FOAF is volunteer recruitment. For all of the events and programming that goes on at the Ambler Farm, it’s staffed by a very small group of employees, and the organization depends quite a lot on volunteers.
“We are wondering if people want to get engaged with the farm, get excited about it and get involved in different ways, so we have a couple questions about volunteer opportunities and if they’d be interested in that, that’s an important aspect of the farm,” Clune says.
The survey has been sent out to the FOAF mailing list but Clune is hoping that people who haven’t yet responded as well as anyone not on that mailing list would complete the survey. The link is available on the Ambler Farm website homepage (or readers can click here) and respondents . The last day to complete the survey is Friday, May 27.
Clune echoes a sentiment from the website, which says in large letters right at the top: ‘Welcome Home to Ambler Farm.’ The FOAF does want people to feel as though the farm belongs to the community. “We’d love to make sure that we’re maximizing everything we can, as one of Wilton’s really great assets. Make sure everybody feels welcome. And if there’s anything else that we can do that we haven’t thought of, we’re more than happy to look into it.”