A Gold Mine of Veggies for Our Silver Anniversary
Gaining Ground’s 25th growing season was a resounding and record-breaking success. In 2019, our hard-working farmers grew 126,275 pounds of organic produce with the help of more than 2,500 volunteers. Our production volume increased 27 percent over 2018 and doubled 2016’s total output. More impressive than these numbers, however, is their impact on our recipient’s lives. Gaining Ground now regularly supplies 750 to 1,000 food-insecure households in the Greater Boston area each week during the growing season, providing increased equitable access to fresh, nutritious food. For some of our recipients, Gaining Ground is the only source of fresh vegetables in their diet.
“In regards to the program and produce I can’t praise the Gaining Ground farmers enough! The produce is incredibly fresh, plentiful, tasty, and so appreciated by the many residents that benefit each week.”—Annette Cerullo, Outreach Coordinator, Westford Council on Aging
Last season’s delicious abundance, facilitated by our ongoing commitment to improving soil health, meant long, hot, exhausting days for our farmers. Led by Farm Manager Doug Wolcik, our six-member farm team worked tirelessly throughout the 2019 season to cultivate more food on Gaining Ground’s three acres than ever before. Joined by our volunteer workforce and 12 recipient partner organizations, we are working together as a community for hunger relief.
Doug has decided to move some of our field beds out of production for the upcoming 2020 season, both to allow our soils to recover from intensive cultivation and to alleviate stress on the farm team. Some of the retired beds will become permanent perennial hedgerows which aid in pest management and enhance biodiversity on the farm. We anticipate these changes will result in overall improvements to the farm, and we remain dedicated to providing fresh food to our recipient partners.
Hailing from 68 different towns and communities throughout eastern Massachusetts, our volunteers dedicated 5,531 hours of community service at Gaining Ground in 2019. We continue to serve as an inclusive, welcoming place for people of all ages to do meaningful volunteer work. This past season, 54 percent of our volunteers were children and youth. We hosted 111 groups, including school classes, corporate teams, scout troops, and faith-based and special-needs groups. From preschoolers to senior citizens, all are welcome to get their hands dirty at Gaining Ground. The energy of our volunteers is integral to our hunger relief efforts, and we are grateful for their dedication.
“Gaining Ground is a special place that is innovating to make sure those who are hungry have access to delicious, healthy food. When I step on the farm, I feel a huge sense of calm. I can only imagine that calm is passed on to those who receive the produce. Hannah and Doug, and the entire team, are amazing—passionate, committed, and building community. A bright star in this era of constant change.”—Kristi, Lexington, Mass.
“Gaining Ground is one of my family’s favorite places. We can be outside with friends and the wonderful farmers, doing fun and meaningful work that contributes to the wellness of others.”—Lauren, Arlington, Mass.
We were delighted to continue partnering with 13 hunger relief organizations in Boston, Lowell, and surrounding Metrowest communities to promote access to fresh, organic produce for our neighbors in need. Our recipient partners pick up loads of freshly harvested vegetables from Gaining Ground each week and distribute this food (generally within 24 hours) to their clients in food pantries, shelters, meal programs, and schools.
A new addition to our recipient group in 2019 was Bridge Boston Charter School in Roxbury, an inspiring school educating underserved youth. All students at Bridge Boston qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. The children are served healthy, organic vegetables as part of their daily meals and also come to the farm to volunteer, witnessing first-hand where their food is grown.
“Seeing the full-circle process of students coming to the farm and helping to plant, pick, and wash produce and then eating those vegetables for lunch has been an exciting experience. Students are eager to get their hands dirty, intrigued by where vegetables come from and how they grow, and feel proud to see those vegetables on their lunch trays at school.”—Thayer Lawson, teacher, Bridge Boston Charter School
With deepest thanks to our volunteers, distribution partners, board of directors, and staff, we reflect on a highly productive 25th growing season. We look forward to continuing to serve the Greater Boston region, striving for food security for all.