A Salute to Paula

After a dozen years working with Gaining Ground farm staff and volunteers, Paula Jordan has decided to redirect her time and talents this season. Her welcoming smile and encouraging guidance will be missed on a daily basis.

Paula joined Gaining Ground in 2007, when the farm had less land, fewer volunteers, and only the pavilion and greenhouse as infrastructure to support production. As a gifted educator, she gently engaged volunteers in the wonders of farming and the natural world. Over the years, as the farm grew into more land, more infrastructure, and four times the production, Paula’s contributions kept pace: She worked in the fields, coordinated the intensely busy wash station, and managed our direct markets with Head Start in Lowell and Food for Families in Concord.

The magic of Paula is not just in what she accomplished—it’s the spirit in which she tackled this work. Here, friends and colleagues share their thoughts on Paula over her many years with us.

“Paula is magic when she brings the farm to the Head Start kids in Lowell. The young students identify with her, love her vegetables, and can’t wait to show their parents the treats Farmer Paula offers. Watching Paula drop down to eye level with these kids and answer their individual questions with respect, it is clear that Paula brings forth the best that Gaining Ground has to offer. Those same respectful interactions are the hallmark of Food for Families. Paula leaves an important legacy and some very big shoes to fill.”

—Polly Vanasse, Board Member, Teacher, Volunteer

“Our history goes way back, I believe to the start of my time at the farm in 2009. Paula was always a bright spot in my days at the farm. I have flashes of memory of us picking chard together in the field, washing roots at the wash station, and setting up yoga mats for a school’s special farm yoga visit. While working, we spent time planning elaborate lunches, cool farm projects to do with kids, and new varieties of flowers and herbs to grow. She could always name the birds and the bugs for me whenever needed, and she spoke to them regularly. When Paula worked with children on the farm or at the markets, she spoke to them with such kindness and patience, introducing them to our vegetables and the farm. The children always left full of excitement and wonder. She cared for deeply for her work. I feel lucky to have worked with such a wonderful friend and farmer.”

—Kayleigh Boyle, Former Farm Manager

“Thanks so much for all you do to make the Head Start market happen. Our families and staff love bringing the children to the market to shop and learn about the different vegetables. Some children have never even heard of some of the vegetables before this experience, let alone try them. Now many families have made this part of their weekly routine. Your presentation of the vegetables makes them even more appealing, and your kind way with people keeps them coming back.”

—Gloria Burnham, Head Start/ Community Teamwork

“Paula has been the one constant during my time at GG. We have worked side by side for the past six seasons. She has been the steadfast force at the ever-evolving wash station and turned a weekly farmers market at Head Start in Lowell into a community and family experience. She has been the volunteer whisperer with her commitment to providing engaging, unique experiences for kids of all ages at the farm.We will certainly miss her laugh and smile this year—and most importantly, her lunches!”

—Doug Wolcik, Farm Manager

Paula’s Listicle by Susan Silberberg, Volunteer

Washing weighing packing stacking lifting loading
Washing weighing packing stacking lifting loading
Washing weighing packing stacking lifting loading
Or together, one on each side, or three
With kindness
With respect
For the plants
Even the weeds
For the insects
Even the pests
For the humans
Even the flawed and confused
Fierce mama
Glowing nana
Crazy curls
Hug like a smile
Smile like a hug