The holidays have come and gone and, after a very successful 2017, where we saw production increase to over 80,000 pounds, we now reflect and set a course for our next season. Winter is the season for planning. How do we achieve these results again or, better yet, how do we continue to grow more food, engage with volunteers, and better steward our land?
Articles tagged with: Staff and Farm Crew
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
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.
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.
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.
This year, Farm Manager Doug Wolcik, Assistant Farm Manager Hannah Lawson, and Market Manager Paula Jordan are leading a strong, enthusiastic team. We welcome Sage Hess and Alex MacLellan as field crew members, Blair Kimble as a summer field hand and volunteer supporter, and Macayla Cote as market intern.
I definitely know that I love my job when I am more excited than ever for the growing season to begin, my fifth at Gaining Ground. And by “begin” I mean “continue,” as we have been harvesting and distributing fresh produce throughout the winter months.
At the end of last season, we finally decided to go for it. We took the leap to transition the farm into permanent no-till raised beds. “No-till” is the practice of growing crops without disturbing the soil. We discovered this method after constructing our first hoop house late in the winter of 2013.
After eight seasons with us, Kayleigh Boyle has moved on to Gibbet Hill Farm in Groton. We’re grateful for her many contributions here and wish her well in her next stages of growth.
Gaining Ground has been part of my life since I was 22. It is hard to believe it’s been eight years. I remember so clearly meeting the farm coordinator, Verena Wieloch, for the first time and taking a walk through the snow-covered March fields. She reassured me that it didn’t look like much at the time, but just wait until the fields were in full bloom.
Join us in welcoming new staff and board members.
I heard on the radio that the average 30-year-old spends five hours a day on their smart phone. As I turned 30 this year, this fact gave me pause. How does this technology fit into my daily life as a farmer? And what is my relationship between farming and technology?
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.
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.
We are a five-person farm crew again this season, with Doug and Kayleigh co-managing the farm, Coleman Wadsworth and Alexis Mantis as our two seasonal apprentices, and Paula Jordan as Head Start mobile market manager.
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!