DARTMOUTH — Bob Nichols, a volunteer leader at Sharing the Harvest Community Farm at the YMCA is turning 72 soon and he works with other retirees.

“Carrying this stuff around is really tough,” he said, referencing the orange buckets filled with butternut squash that UMass Dartmouth students harvested early afternoon Sunday.

A couple hundred students donned gloves at the farm, harvesting different types of squash and ripping up weeds and black plastic used to protect crops, for the 8th annual 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance, part of a national effort.

“What a great show of UMD pride,” said Matthew Roy, assistant vice chancellor for civic engagement, before students and some faculty members started for the plant beds.

The farm works with United Way of Greater New Bedford to distribute food to 18 organizations on the SouthCoast including food pantries, residential programs, veterans’ associations, councils on aging and Salvation Army and Red Cross sites.

With just one and a half staff members working on five acres, the farm relies on volunteers. Maia Shwartz, director of the Dartmouth YMCA said having so many volunteers at once was “huge.” Another group of students were set to arrive for a shift starting at 2 p.m.

Students can continue the good deed by returning on Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m., when transportation will be provided to them.

“This is a great place for students to volunteer,” said Seth Thomas, volunteer coordinator. Volunteers don’t need experience and can drop in Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

While the farm has a dozen core volunteers, it’s looking for more.

“This is awesome,” Shwartz said. “Yeah, squashes!” she added, cheering students on as they loaded buckets of squash onto a truck to be unloaded elsewhere on the farm.

“Squash out hunger,” Thomas said.

Medjine Eliazard and Ryjbara Elysee, both first-year students from Boston interested in becoming nurses, were tearing up weeds and plastic before their group was called to head back to campus.

New to the school, they recently heard about the volunteering opportunity and thought “why not?” Eliazard said.

“It’s really relaxing,” she said.

“I think farming is a hard job,” said Elysee.

For junior Josue Rivera Valdez, farming was a familiar experience.

“When I was younger, I used to work at the farms,” he said, noting those his family had in the Dominican Republic where he was born.

Ryan Magnett, a 17-year-old New Bedford High School senior played the role of a group leader for both volunteering shifts. She said upper-class students from B.M.C Durfee High School in Fall River and Global Learning Charter Public School in New Bedford were also asked to participate.

A portion of Sunday’s harvest also goes to Arnie’s Cupboard, UMass Dartmouth’s on-campus food pantry serving students, faculty and staff.

The food pantry was started by two UMass Dartmouth endeavor scholars three years ago at the Dartmouth Bible Church and then it moved to the Main Auditorium, Room 208, Roy said.

“Higher education is definitely recognizing that students will pay for books before they pay for food,” said Deirdre Healy, director of the Office of Community Service & Partnerships at the Center for Civic Engagement. The university is not alone in trying to alleviate food insecurity on its campus, she said.

Last year, 250 students, faculty and staff harvested 12,335 pounds of fresh vegetables and removed 10,500 feet of plastic.

Follow Aimee Chiavaroli on Twitter @AimeeC_SCT