Volunteering with the Esalen Farm and Garden
Volunteering with the Esalen Farm and Garden Crew is a wonderful way to support the work that we do while experiencing the magic of growing food on the Esalen land. We welcome all levels of growing experience. The only requirements are an observant mind, a curious spirit, a love of dirty hands, and a willingness to work hard in rain or shine.
Flow of the Volunteer Day
We gather in the center of the Garden at 7:15 am, meditate briefly and then commence the day’s harvest, washing, and delivery of our fresh produce to the Esalen Kitchen. We break for a 30-minute breakfast around 9:00 am. After breakfast, we we gather in a brief sharing circle to connect with ourselves and each other more fully. After the check-in, we work until 1:00 pm in either the Farm or Garden.
Terms of Volunteerism
In exchange for working from 7:00 am to 1pm, you will receive same-day privileges on property, including access to the baths and free movement classes (as available). Volunteerism also includes breakfast (9:00 - 9:30 am), lunch (1:00 - 1:45 pm) and dinner (6:00 - 7:30 pm). You do not need to pay fees for your meals or facility use. We are unable to offer staff discounts on bodywork or in the bookstore — please do not ask.
You are welcome to arrive as early as 6:30 am on the day you are volunteering. After volunteering, you are welcome to stay on the main site until 9:00 pm to enjoy meals, the baths and free movement classes — but you must leave property by 9:00 pm sharp.
Scheduling a Volunteer Day
Volunteers can work with our crew on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays only from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm year-round. Please do not inquire about scheduling for Tuesdays, Saturdays or Sundays.
Since volunteer spots are limited in general, scheduling with as much advance notice as possible is recommended. We are currently booking volunteer reservations for the next 30 days.
At least one week in advance of your desired volunteer day, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the following info:
- The full name/s of yourself and anyone else in your party requesting to volunteer.
- Your phone/email contact information.
- Please include the date(s) requested in the subject and body of your email. Several date options are ideal so we can choose based on what fits in best with our schedule and work flow.
- A few sentences about why you would like to have the experience of volunteering in the Esalen Farm and Garden,
- your level of experience with gardening or farming,
- where and/or what you will be joining us from,
- where you plan to stay overnight (if will need to travel some distance to be here).
- An acknowledgement of the terms of volunteerism (above).
After receiving your email, we will respond to let you know which date works, and if not, we will supply some alternative options. We tend to respond to volunteer inquiries about once a week.
Please cancel all volunteer reservations with 5-day notice. This allows us to schedule someone to take your spot, and prevents us from turning others down unnecessarily. If you are going to be late or your plans change day-of, please call us at (831) 667-3078 to let us know.
Road Closures and Delays
Please be advised that Big Sur often has major road issues and delays, especially in the rainier seasons. If there are road delays, please factor some delay time (up to 30 minutes) into your travel plans. Daily roadwork schedules are subject to change due to weather conditions and other factors. We recommend checking the Highway One Cambria to Carmel Toll-Free Hotline (1-888-836-0866) before your departure to ensure that Highway One is open and accessible to Esalen.
What to Bring
The Farm and Garden has tools, hats, sunblock, mud boots, rain gear, and gloves available for volunteer use. However, we encourage volunteers to bring their preferred clothing for being comfortable during a day of Farm and Garden work. We encourage you to dress in layers in that the temperature may fluctuate throughout the day. Please wear closed-toe comfortable shoes or boots that you are willing to get dirty and possibly wet. A water bottle is essential.
Esalen cannot provide accommodations for volunteers, and volunteers are not allowed to stay on property past 9:00 pm. There are various campgrounds and hotels in and around Big Sur, as well as the option to car camp along the side of Highway One. Car camping is not permitted on Esalen property or directly outside of Esalen on Highway One. If space is available, you are welcome to book a personal retreat room on the Esalen property; please call 831-667-3005 to check availability or make a reservation.
To find out about options for Big Sur campgrounds, check the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce camping guide. We strongly recommend making reservations if possible. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is the nearest campground to Esalen (only 1.5 miles north), but it has only two hike-in camp sites and no bathroom facilities. If you are coming from the north, good camping options are Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Riverside Campground, Big Sur Campground & Cabins, or Fernwood. If you are coming from the south, good options are Limekiln, Plaskett Creek, Nacimiento, or Treebones Resort.
We are located 12 miles south of Big Sur along the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway One). For driving directions, as well as a map and information on shuttle services, please click here.