2021 Staff and Board News

2021 staff photo: Allison Goodwin, Kim Schmidt, Erin Espinosa, Anna Kelchlin, Jennifer Johnson, Rae Axner, and Christine Savage

In tumultuous times, we are more grateful than ever for the dedication of our board of directors and staff. Their talents and skills have helped Gaining Ground achieve record-breaking harvests year after year, and have enabled us to strive to meet rising food insecurity associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At the end of 2020, we bid a fond farewell to board members Jessica Huddy (on the board since 2011), Linda Booth Sweeney (2013), Theresa Cohen (2016), and Nick Ferbert (2019). We offer heartfelt thanks to these individuals for their energy, time, and passion over the years, and wish them all the best in their future endeavors. 

We are thrilled to welcome John Canally to the board of directors in 2021. John, who is chief portfolio strategist at TIAA, relocated back to Concord after a short stint in North Carolina last year, and happily decided to rejoin our board. John served on the Concord Planning Board from 2012 through 2017 and was a previous member of our Board of Directors in 2018. He seeks to inspire others to get involved in Gaining Ground’s hunger-relief mission while contributing his experience in financial services to the organization. Welcome back, John!

On the staff front, last year brought many changes as well. After eight seasons as farm manager, Doug Wolcik moved to northern Vermont to pursue his lifelong dream of operating his own farm. We express tremendous gratitude to Doug for all that he accomplished during his tenure. The farm’s beauty, order, and astounding yields are the direct result of his expertise. We also said goodbye in 2020 to longtime program manager and dynamo, Fan Watkinson, who retired to the greener pastures of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom—relocating just a few miles from Doug’s new farm! Fan’s enriching contributions to Gaining Ground, as well as to the local agricultural community, are too numerous to name. She will be missed.

We are proud and excited to have Anna Kelchlin stepping into the role of farm manager this season. Anna is a skilled grower with more than 10 years of experience (including two seasons at Gaining Ground). She worked previously at Waltham Fields Community Farm as assistant farm manager, has a background in farm-based education, and is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher. Congratulations and welcome, Anna!

Our talented 2021 farm staff includes Kim Schmidt, returning for her fourth season as greenhouse manager, and Erin Espinosa in the new role of farm education manager. Rae Axner, Avery Indermaur, and Chrissie Edgeworth are also new members of the farm team. In the office, Jennifer Johnson and Allison Goodwin are joined by new communications manager, Christine Savage. These three will leverage years of nonprofit administration in coordination with the board of directors.

Rae Axner, Assistant Grower

Rae is excited to return to full-time field work after several years in program management, spent with the amazing youth of Groundwork Somerville and The Food Project in Lynn. Rae has also grown food at Waltham Fields Community Farm, and in her own and her father’s home gardens. A lifelong resident of Somerville, she has a bachelor’s of arts degree in community health and American studies from Tufts University. Rae is passionate about youth power, food and climate justice, and building solidarity to care for each other and the land. She enjoys biking, swimming, laughing, and eating, especially foods with too much garlic. She is excited to learn more about no-till and regenerative agriculture this season at Gaining Ground.

Chrissie Edgeworth, Assistant Grower 

Chrissie’s previous jobs took her through New Hampshire State Parks and Montana and Idaho Wilderness Areas as a Conservation Corps trail crew member. She led high school science courses in Yellowstone National Park and spent time in Guinea, West Africa, while in the Peace Corps. Chrissie hails from Chicago and loves learning about the intersections of food and farming. In her spare time she runs a small jewelry business and enjoys hiking, cooking, writing, and being with friends.

Erin Espinosa, Farm Education Manager

Erin is grateful for a career that connects her and others to the gifts of land and nutritious foods. Her seven-year career as a vegetable and flower farmer, mostly at Upswing Farm, was complemented by activism in food justice and racial equity. Now, Erin is excited to grow food and community at Gaining Ground. Off of the farm, Erin enjoys hiking, salsa dancing, and all things food. On her days off, Erin teaches horticulture classes at a local prison and fundraises with The New Garden Society.

Allison Goodwin, Program Manager 

Allison joined Gaining Ground in 2017. Ever since a farm field trip in third grade, she has been passionate about sustainable agriculture, connecting to the land, and increasing equitable access to fresh, healthy food. She currently coordinates our recipient partnerships and produce distribution, manages volunteer scheduling, assists with development, and handles our office operations. Allison worked previously at Chelsea Green Publishing, at several environmental non-profits, and on sustainable farms in the U.S. and abroad. She earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Marlboro College in Vermont. In her free time, Allison enjoys gardening, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.

Avery Indermaur, Field Crew Member

Avery is a recent graduate of Duke University with a major in environmental science, minor in cultural anthropology, and a certificate in sustainability engagement. Through her internships at Sustainable Duke and the Duke Student Wellness Center, she cemented her passion for connecting wellness and sustainability, specifically through food and farming. In these roles, she loved hosting student engagement events about mental health, environmental wellness, and sustainable food as well as helping manage several of Duke’s garden spaces. Her interests also took her to Limahuli National Tropical Botanical Garden and Preserve in Kauai, Hawaii, where she served as a summer field intern. When she’s not in the field, you can find her baking, cooking, doing yoga, hiking, dancing, or tucked in a coffee shop with a good book.

Jennifer Johnson, Executive Director

Jennifer joined Gaining Ground in March 2020—four days before the pandemic brought the world to a screeching halt. Under her leadership, Gaining Ground added new hunger-relief partners in communities particularly hard hit by the pandemic and grew a record-breaking amount of food. Jennifer is passionate about equitable access to healthy food and the healing power of nature. She earned a degree in communications from Boston University and completed the in-residence Business for Impact program at Georgetown University. She lives with her family in Concord and enjoys reading, running, hiking, gardening, and kayaking. She loves working with the Gaining Ground staff, board, volunteers, and donors to grow food and community.

Anna Kelchlin, Farm Manager

Anna believes in connecting people to the land through growing food. She is honored to be a part of the process of healing land and community with a regenerative mindset. She spent seven seasons farming at Waltham Fields Community Farm and is now beginning her third season at Gaining Ground. She is fluent in Spanish, is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher, and strives to empower others to live fully and feel peace.

Christine Savage, Communications Manager

Christine joined the team in 2021. After working in book publishing for several years, she changed gears and has been involved with hunger relief, access to the outdoors, and food issues ever since. She has worked at the Somerville Community Growing Center, Food For Free in Cambridge, and interned at the Higher Ground Rooftop Farm at Boston Medical Center. At Gaining Ground, Christine coordinates the farm’s communications efforts through our website, social media, publicity, newsletters, and events. Outside of work, Christine likes to garden, camp in the Green Mountains, walk her dog, Osa, and listen to (still so much) Emmylou Harris.

Kim Schmidt, Greenhouse Manager

This is Kim’s fourth season at Gaining Ground, sharing her expertise about food and farming with our staff and volunteers. A native of the midwest, Kim has farmed in various capacities across the country for the past ten years, including work at Urbavore Farm (Kansas City), Denver Urban Gardens, and running her own small market garden in her hometown of Wichita, Kansas. In addition to field work, she manages the greenhouse and oversees our flower fields and production. Kim is grateful to have found a place that fulfills her desire to both farm sustainably and support her community. When not in the fields, Kim can be found camping and hiking, playing with fiber art and ceramics, or nuzzling her sweet cat, Norris.