It is magical to watch the ebb and flow of farm activities throughout the season and the improvements in production annually. Last year was a big year from beginning to end. In 2017 we donated the most produce in five years and, for the first time, we distributed every month, January through December.
Our farm staff couldn’t have done this work without the help of our 2,600 volunteers who start out in the soggy days of April and work through the hot summer months into chilly October.
In 2017, we distributed our produce in Concord, Bedford, Devons, Maynard, Sudbury, Westford, Lowell, and Boston through partnerships with 13 hunger-relief organizations that distribute through meals, food pantries, and direct free markets.
Each year we build on the previous year’s experience to improve what we grow, how we grow it together with our volunteers, and how we distribute it through our partners to families in need.
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 in 2017.
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Acton-Boxborough high school seniors who choose to farm, instead of occupying our minds with daytime television and outdated sitcoms.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.
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.
Everyone always talks about how high school is such a blur—a crazy, fun, busy blur. Upon graduating, we can confirm this. But there were the days where it all slowed down. On many of these days, we were on the farm.
Did you volunteer at Gaining Ground last year? If so, you were one of more than 3,000 volunteers who contributed to 7,500-plus hours of planting, weeding, watering, and carefully tending the rainbow of produce on Gaining Ground’s farm.
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.
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.
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 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.
For farms, winter means more time to plan, and this year’s focus has been to streamline our volunteer sign-up process. We want our volunteers to spend less time in their planning and more enjoyable time in the planting and harvesting.
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 through the winter and early spring in 2016.
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.