I recently attended a lecture at an unnamed old university in Cambridge. (Thoreau dismissed a degree from that school, writing, “Let every sheep keep its skin.”) The professor’s topic was social justice and food activism. One of the messages was that nonprofit hunger relief missions, like ours at Gaining Ground, are misguided and ultimately ineffective. The corollary message was that real change to our agricultural production system and our economic and food inequality will only come from deep policy and structural changes.
As the growing season starts to wind down, I start to get excited about the winter months and the planning process for next year’s growing season. I can’t help myself. As a farmer, it is so ingrained to always be thinking two days, two weeks, even two months ahead at any moment. But on days like today, I try to focus on the present and the perfect light on a fall day here in Concord.
“Those are carrots. Reindeers eat carrots.” —A 4 year-old talking to her friend at the Head Start market
“The market is an opportunity to see all the colors, all the vegetables. Kids feel important when they shop.” —Teacher at Head Start in Lowell
“We’ve tried new vegetables, and I’m learning how to cook.” and “This market helps a lot, so as a family we ate more nutritious meals. Please come back!” —Parents from Head Start
A shark has to keep moving in order to survive. Without the constant stream of water, they suffocate and die. Likewise, millennials share a common inability to be at rest. We are a group of five Acton-Boxborough high school seniors who choose to farm, instead of occupying our minds with daytime television and outdated sitcoms. We call ourselves SHARK.
For the past two years, the Pottery Club at Middlesex School in Concord has participated in the Empty Bowls program and raised more than $2,000 for Gaining Ground. Empty Bowls is a national program that has been helping to raise money and awareness in the fight to end hunger since 1990.
Hard to express in a few words, my experience at Gaining Ground has meant growth, empowerment, challenge, and fulfillment. It’s also been sweaty. I came into this season with very little farming knowledge. For many years now, I have studied plants—how to identify them, draw them, understand their biology. I have spent many countless hours watching and taking pleasure in plants, yet I didn’t really know anything about growing them effectively and felt clueless coming onto the field.
Join us for two upcoming events on Saturday, December 2, 2017, and looking ahead to Thursday, March 29, 2018. Join our email list to stay in the loop on upcoming events and other news!
This year, Gaining Ground participated in the Concord Food, Farm and Ag Weekend on September 9–10.
On September 24, under sunny skies, 11 cyclists rode for Gaining Ground in the Three Squares New England 6th annual Ride for Food. They raised more than $13,000 to help further Gaining Ground’s mission to grow organic produce and donate it to hunger relief efforts. Five volunteers donated their time by checking in riders, marshaling, and posting on social media.
The Board and Staff would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those supporters who have given generously and shared their time and talents with Gaining Ground this season.
The board’s recent work on a strategic plan is taking shape in important ways. As part of the goal to develop a new leadership plan, Amy Capofreddi has been appointed our first executive director, responsible for executing strategy and growing the organization.
One of the joys of farming is that each season is a fresh start, bringing new challenges and new successes. Until you are in it, you never know how it will go. Farming forces you to be present, to live in the now and depend on the elements. You can plan as much as possible, but it is the day to day that really affects the season.
Gaining Ground has focused on hunger relief for the underserved for more than twenty years. When we think about the families and children we serve, we have many questions about the food we grow and its potential impact on our recipients. Come join us at Concord's Food, Farm and Garden Fair (Saturday, September 9, from 10:00 to 2:00) or visit us at the farm for Gaining Ground’s Community Harvest Celebration (Sunday, September 10, noon to 3:00) as we launch a year-long exploration into the connections between soil vitality, healthy food, and hunger relief.
At the beginning of the summer, Gretchen Nelson, head of the board’s Recipient Committee, and I scheduled visits to the amazing organizations that distribute our produce. With growing season in full swing, seeing our vegetables filling tables, shelves, and bags was clearly going to be powerful. I had been told that our produce is often the only fresh food many of these organizations receive on a weekly basis, but seeing it first-hand solidified why we do what we do at Gaining Ground.