Change Is a Constant on the Farm
To work on a farm is to expect change of all kinds, some that we create on purpose, and some that are mysteries that unfold and surprise us throughout the year. We are subject to the weather, yet we design schedules and plans for planting and harvesting crops. We study and ameliorate the soil, then patiently anticipate improvements in crop quality. And we nurture our community, then benefit from the contributions the volunteers, staff, recipients, donors, and board members bring to the process and our programs.
We make all kinds of plans and then things change.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed farm operations (including the temporary suspension of our volunteer program), but it has not changed our commitment to grow and supply tens of thousands of pounds of fresh organic produce to our hunger relief partners.
There have also been some changes to the Gaining Ground staff, with a new executive director and program manager. When our first executive director, Amy Capofreddi, was hired in 2016, the organization was growing fast. The board looked for a strong advocate of our mission, a successful fundraiser, who would take our organization to another level of success. Recently, Amy accepted a new position at another nonprofit, and to keep her involvement in Gaining Ground, we asked her to join our board and she graciously accepted.
Our new executive director is Jennifer Johnson, who stepped into the role during confusing and challenging times, and did so with confidence and grace. Jennifer is a natural leader, guiding us through difficult decisions regarding the impact of COVID-19, coordinating staff changes, and all in her first week on the job.
Fan Watkinson, our program manager, is also shifting roles, following six years of growing our organizational systems, outreach programs, and improving our relationships with recipient partners and volunteers. Fan will continue her exceptional outreach efforts by guiding Gaining Ground’s online and social media presence.
Allison Goodwin is moving up to the position of program manager in Fan’s place and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our organic farming model. Allison’s gentle manner hides a confident and skilled managerial style that is critical to all that happens at Gaining Ground.
On the farming front, we are rebuilding our pavilion to improve volunteer education and accessibility, offer comfortable shelter for the farmers and visitors, and a larger space for the bands that play at our various events on the farm. The new pavilion is being raised by the same company that built our barn.
This past year has seen yet another significant growth in production, a result of continued improvement of our soil and farming methods, the addition of hoop houses that extend both the beginning and the end of our growing season, and the expansion of our no-till model. In the next year or two, we will gently reach the land’s capacity, and production will stabilize. We eagerly look forward to a chance to focus on other goals from our strategic plan—the quality of our volunteer experience, the growth of our donor base, and most importantly, our continued dedication to reduce food insecurity and broaden the reach of our organization towards hunger relief in the Boston area.
The board of directors wishes to thank everyone who contributes to Gaining Ground, we cannot reach such milestones without you—farmers and staff, donors and volunteers, corporate sponsors, it all matters and we are grateful!