Volunteering with the Café

Three young women participating in the decoratioon of a Café table.

Painting Café tables | Image © Satyadarshin 2011

Many of us work in the Café because it’s a great way to enjoy to a festival. We don’t see the festival as going on outside, away from the Café or away from work, we believe we’re contributing something valuable to the event we’re attending. Check out this year’s Buddhafield Café programme from where you can volunteer for whichever event interests you.

Working with the Buddhafield Café

Although the Café is run by Buddhists, it’s not necessary to identify yourself as one too. The minimum we ask is that you are sympathetic and interested in what we are trying to achieve, which is to apply the values of mindfulness and kindness to a work environment. We don’t expect you to join in with any specific spiritual practices, although you are very welcome to do so. You don’t need any particular experience of kitchens: we’ll give you all the training you need.

You are expected to work one, six hour shift per day throughout the event. We’d appreciate help with setting up and taking down too. You must commit to arriving in time for a general health & safety talk the day before the event starts (see below), and stay until at least the end of your shift on the festival closing day.

In return you not only get entry into the event, but plenty of our own organic, freshly prepared food (counter stock like chocolate bars, cans, etc, which can be brought at a discounted rate), the opportunity to learn new skills in a positive environment, experience a great sense of community and team work, and have opportunities for learning about meditation and Buddhism.

The crew often camps together (near the Café itself if we’re lucky) and you’ll be welcome to join us. You’ll need a robust set of camping gear with you, especially wet-weather kit. Although we don’t carry spare camping equipment with us (extra tents, sleeping bags etc), let us know immediately if you’re struggling.

Regardless of what you do in the depths of the festival, please don’t either drink alcohol, smoke or roll up around the Café. We ask you to ensure you arrive for your shifts on time and in a fit state to work.

Shift Patterns
ShiftCheck inTimesCheck outTeam
Each day is usually divided into three, six hour shifts. However opening times vary at different events, so shift times vary too: there may be night shifts / split shifts.
Breakfast06:3007:00 – 13:0013:00 – 13:30A
Afternoon12:3013:00 – 19:0019:00 – 19:30B or C
Evening18:3019:00 – 01:00OptionalC or B

Image © Buddhafield 2010


There is a team meeting half an hour before each shift (usually held in a crew dome). These are an opportunity to check in with your team — see how everyone is — bring up any problems or resolve difficulties and make sure all tasks within the Café are covered.

The Breakfast Team (A) always work on the breakfast shift, but the Afternoon and Evening Teams (B and C) alternate shifts. If you end up on a Breakfast Shift, the advantage is that you get work out of the way early and you won’t miss so much of the day’s programme. The downside is that you need to be up at about 6am.

Afternoon and evening shifts rotate: you do afternoon one day, evening the next. The advantage here is that you get always get a lie-in after a late night, and every other day get 24 consecutive hours off.

During your shift you should take half an hour break (either all at once or split into 3x10 or 2x15 minutes), negotiated with your shift Co-ordinator to make sure the kitchen runs smoothly.


Most training will be done on-the-job. A health & safety meeting will be held (usually) at 4pm the day before the festival opens to the public. You’ll learn about the working environment, the hygiene practices you’re required to observe and what to do in cases of emergency. Any subsequent problems can be resolved through your Shift Co-ordinator.