Everyone has a food story. It just seems to take a little talking to learn it. Working with Gaining Ground volunteers over the years, I have heard many stories that I collected like slips of paper. It was just this year that I realized how these food stories come from all types of people. There was the woman who remembered the house made of pole beans her dad built her when she was small. There was mint that a third grade boy recognized because he and his dad stop to visit a patch every time they walk their dog. There are nostalgic descriptions of grandmothers’ gardens and the gardens of mothers and fathers vivid with vegetables even though some were planted fifty years ago. And, of course, there are the gardens growing at homes this season, with their woodchuck stories and their memorable one-strawberry harvests. There are always tales of the delicious meals made, too. Telling stories provides an easy way for everyone working to join in the conversation of favorite ways to use, eat, and preserve.
Articles in Category: Fall 2015 Print News
In the spring, we asked our community to help us raise funds to build a barn. New and long-time donors, foundations, and our Board have responded, and a barn is coming.
A dedicated group of our Staff, Board, and consultants, led by Board member Jeff Young, has been working on design and siting all summer. The barn won’t be the proverbial camel, a horse designed by committee, and has taken shape as a highly functional building to serve the various needs of our farm, farmers, and volunteers. We maintained our commitment to making the barn advance all aspects of our mission, enabling volunteers of all abilities to help us grow as much produce as possible for our recipients.
Due to the pending construction of the barn, we celebrated our 22nd growing season a week earlier this year on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in mid-September. With tomatoes still in the hoop house and a large field of fall crops near the pavilion, musicians Ryan Thomson and his son Brennish entertained a welcome group of Gaining Ground friends. We are so appreciative of everyone who made this event possible!
With so many volunteers, Gaining Ground has needed an additional picnic table and benches. This spring, high school student Santiago Benoit of Concord’s Troop 132 took on the challenge as his Eagle Scout project. In August, he and a team of Scouts spent the day putting together the many components just in time for September’s Harvest Fest. Numerous volunteers have appreciated the additional resting space.
Hi! My name is Ryan Devlin, and I was one of the apprentices at Gaining Ground for the 2015 growing season. I am from Framingham and have been working on small organic farms for the past seven years. Despite my previous experience, Gaining Ground was the first full-sized farm where I worked for the entire growing season, and it was a wonderful place to do so!
Another record-breaking harvest gave our farmers a problem that was a pleasure to solve: we had to find another group to receive the bounty from our fields. Rosie’s Place in Boston proved to be ideal. It meets our criteria for distribution—it is located within 20 miles of our farm, has a “choice” pantry and refrigeration, and offers nutritional education. Rosie’s also provides healthy lunches and dinners in their welcoming dining room to 220 poor and homeless women and their children each day.
“I wouldn’t really call them mice. Definitely rats. House-cat-sized. This is one of the many trapdoors where they enter.”
Enough! Gaining Ground Farm Managers Kayleigh Boyle and Doug Wolcik vividly brought to life our rodent-ravaged greenhouse in a video to NetScout employees during the final selection stage of their Heart of Giving Community Program. Westford-based NetScout partnered with The Greater Lowell Community Foundation to invite project proposals from regional nonprofits. A committee of NetScout employees reviewed 16 proposals and winnowed them down to three finalists. Each finalist gave a 10-minute pitch and, through a company-wide vote, the employees chose Gaining Ground’s proposal to upgrade our greenhouse.
I have been volunteering at GG for many years with friends and family. This past semester, I attended The High Mountain Institute in Leadville, Colorado, where I learned a lot about sustainability and ways in which one can live a greener life. I hope to bring positive energy to the Board, as well as new ideas on how to integrate the community in Gaining Ground projects. My focus is to involve people my age, and younger, so that the vitality of Gaining Ground will continue as the years go on.
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 throughout the 2015 season.
Gaining Ground volunteer David Outerbridge always has an eye open for time-consuming tasks. He wants the farmers to be free to give their full attention to growing produce and working with volunteers. So, after years teaching high school English, followed by a restless retirement teaching continuing education in Newton and tutoring international students at UMass Boston, David has discovered he is happiest when removing obstacles to the smooth operation of Gaining Ground—especially if a physical challenge is involved.