As Patient as the Land: A View from the Land Committee
One of the goals set out in Gaining Ground’s 2022-2027 strategic plan is to extend the farm’s reach in order to increase our impact on food insecurity. One way we’re doing this is by exploring and testing opportunities to expand our food production beyond our current land constraints. Ethical management of our farm means that we respect the limits of its growing capacity. Incredibly, our farmers harvest more than 100,000 pounds of produce from our three acres each year. But rates of food insecurity continue to rise, so to help meet our goal of increased impact, we’ve established an expansion committee to seek out and respond to opportunities to farm additional land so that we can provide even more produce to individuals and families in our region.
Finding available farmland in the suburbs is challenging; finding high-quality farmland feels near impossible. Farmers in our area today face the same challenges as farmers of centuries ago: too much water, or not enough water. Sandy soils, or mucky soils. As early as the mid-18th century, farmland in the Boston area had been depleted by overuse and poor grazing methods. The modern era brings additional needs: Can farmland be accessed safely and efficiently by truck and tractor? Is there on-site storage for equipment, supplies, and crops? Are greenhouses and hoop houses allowed so that we can extend the growing season? Land under other ownership or in conservation may come with restrictions, and even where it doesn’t, there is considerable cost involved in building the necessary infrastructure.
Even if the right piece of land is found, it’s likely to need at least a full growing season under tarps to kill unwanted weed species, followed by the addition of many truckloads of compost to bring the soil up to Gaining Ground standards.
We have developed criteria to help guide us and prevent us from pursuing opportunities that might prove to be a poor fit in the end, and will be proactive in seeking available parcels of land as well as considering other possibilities that come our way. As excited as we are at the prospect of expansion and feeding more people experiencing food insecurity, our team understands the virtue of patience.
We welcome our community’s help in this process: Please be in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any leads on land you think we should consider.