For the past six years, Gaining Ground has focused on making our farm more productive. Our efforts have been concentrated on the inputs: soil amendments, a well and irrigation, deer fencing, and a barn. It’s easy to measure the success of those inputs: We have doubled our production to 60,000 pounds of organic produce and welcome over 3,000 volunteers annually to work on the farm.
This year, Gaining Ground welcomed over 150 people to the farm for our Community Harvest Celebration on Sunday, September 19. Della’s Dinner offered a locally sourced menu of sandwiches, salads, and irresistible desserts, while Twisted Pine, a popular, local, new roots band, entertained the crowd from the volunteer pavilion. Bass player Chris Sartori had been a volunteer at the farm years ago while in high school.
How fortunate we are that Liza Connolly, chef and co-founder of Kids Cooking Green, has volunteered to pick up and help prepare our produce weekly during this fall’s pilot partnership program with Waltham Boys and Girls Club (WBGC). With a mission to inspire youth to reach their full potential, WBGC offers a welcoming space weekdays and holidays for athletics, creativity, social recreation, and community service. These activities require energy fueled by good food, yet for many of its members, hunger and nutrition are a daily challenge.
This is a farm to feed neighbors, a civic investment for long-term yields without the government’s hand in the matter. This is about respect for land and food, and the dignity of people who have neither.
Why do I volunteer at Gaining Ground? Interesting question. I started there because I was looking for a way to be useful in this world. I stayed because I get more than I give.
I hail from the Great American Midwest, near Chicago to be exact, and have always been interested in things agricultural and outdoors, due in part I suppose to having grown up on that rapidly moving boundary between housing and agriculture, as well as having spent summers on my great uncle’s farm in Marengo, Ill. Relocating to New England for college, I continued to be fascinated by gardening. I also made occasional forays into related ventures, such as raising a few turkeys and farming with an antique tractor.
From big foundations to elementary students raising money through Read for Seeds, all donors want to know that their investment has made a difference.
Each year, Gaining Ground relies on many members of our community to help fund our mission. Through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations, we are able to raise $350,00 to support all operations. While we would like to devote an entire story to each of our donors, here we are highlighting these two organizations whose support has made a tremendous impact.
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.
On Sunday, September 25, a team of Gaining Ground supporters cycled between 10 and 50 miles in the Ride for Food fundraiser organized by Three Squares New England. The team raised over $20,000, doubling their goal of $10,000 — a tremendous accomplishment for our first year participating in this event.
Mark your calendar! On Saturday, December 3, Debra’s Natural Gourmet will donate 5% of its proceeds to Gaining Ground. Set aside the date to shop at Debra’s, 98 Commonwealth Avenue in West Concord, and help Gaining Ground, too. We greatly appreciate Debra’s Natural Gourmet’s generous and long-time support of our work and mission.
This year has been the most instrumental season toward my growth as a young farmer.
Most importantly, I’ve learned to let go, and that I cannot possibly live and die with each and every seed and plant on the farm. To practice patience and to stay present.
I am an interdisciplinary artist, engaged in various media: painting, drawing, textiles, sculpture, photography, video and sound installation, with a little performance thrown into the mix. For the past 40 years, I have been lured by the landscape and how human intervention has molded, nurtured, and altered the natural environment.
Recently I have been thinking about what I would do once my apprenticeship ends. As a somewhat last resort, I retook the the famous Myers-Briggs personality test online. I had taken it in high school as sort of a career guidance tool but had not thought about it again until recently. I am so glad I did, as it seemed to have opened a door to the inner workings of my psyche.
The first time I visited Gaining Ground I was in third grade with a school group. I was really impressed by the selflessness of the farmers: growing so much organic food, to then donate to charity. I had been looking for ways to positively influence those in need, and I decided that this was a great way to do so because I would be able to help others, while working and having fun.