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.
This fall, we welcome two new youth board members: Matt and Hannah.
Farm Team is a program within Gaining Ground that brings together local high school-aged kids who have a genuine passion for being outside and getting their hands dirty. We hope to assist the farmers with the greatest amount of work possible. This means heading out to the farm every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 am to noon, rain or shine, throughout the summer.
Throughout my two visits to Gaining Ground, I have learned more about farming in the fields than I could have in two weeks in school. I have really learned farming isn’t all fun and games. There are tasks that will leave your sore for a week. After going through what these farmers do every day, I have newfound respect for everyone who chooses to work on a farm, especially when 100% of your produce goes to charity.
Thanks to the support of Patagonia Boston and a Patagonia Enviro Internship grant, I am grateful to be volunteering with the farm staff at Gaining Ground for four weeks this summer. Everywhere I turn I see signs of ecosystem health.
Market season is upon us. Tomatoes are ripening up and our fall plants are going in the ground this week. Here are a few highlights from our three markets in Lowell and Concord where we directly distribute our produce.
We are off to a great start at our two markets for Head Start families in Lowell. At one site, we serve approximately 23-28 families each week. At our first market we found a caterpillar on the fennel, which was adopted by a classroom, heard many food stories and saw many children happily eating the snap peas and broccoli out of hand. A mom who is Vietnamese American was excited to see the fennel for her pho soup.
After the completion of our five year strategic plan, “Dig Deeper,” the Gaining Ground board tackled the question: “What’s Next?” The 2017 Plan, “Expanding Our Reach and Impact,” presents fitting and exciting challenges for Gaining Ground.