Cultivating a Legacy

Since 2021, Gaining Ground has thrived under the leadership of Farm Manager Anna Kelchlin, a skilled grower with more than 12 years of experience who also brings a strong philosophy of mindfulness, care, and gratitude to her work. 

Season after season, Anna has led the dynamic Gaining Ground crew to produce hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh, organic produce, all donated to emergency food programs in the region. 

Now Anna will embark on a new adventure:  starting her own farm, Late Bloom, in Haverhill! Stepping up to guide the farm deftly in 2024 will be Farm Co-Managers Kari Bender and Chrissie Edgeworth.

To commemorate this transition, we asked the team to reflect on Anna’s enduring contributions to Gaining Ground. Below you will find their responses, which capture not only Anna’s impact but also the depth of appreciation we feel for her.

We look forward to following the story of Late Bloom, and continuing to learn and grow with Anna on this journey of sustainable farming for resilience, hope, and abundance. Do you have a special memory of Anna? Let us know in the comments!

Jennifer Johnson, Executive Director

I first met Anna in March 2020 when I began working at Gaining Ground.  Days after I joined the farm, the world was thrown into the turmoil and uncertainty of the pandemic. When I think of those early days, I recall Anna’s steadfast commitment to growing abundant healthy food, and her determination to continue seeing light and joy despite the worries and unknowns.  Then, and now, she radiates love and compassion into her work and to everyone she interacts with. I’ve learned so much just by watching her. We will miss Anna dearly at Gaining Ground, and at the same time, we are so excited to see her vision for Late Bloom Farm come to life!

Allison Goodwin, Operations Director

Anna is an exceptionally talented farmer who brings deep connection, joy, and a soulful quality to her work with the land. She is frequently praised by volunteers as a patient, knowledgeable and friendly educator in the fields. She has grown by leaps and bounds over her four seasons at Gaining Ground, especially in the past three years as farm manager. Anna brings 100% of herself to each of her tasks, going above and beyond in all ways. She is precise, organized, careful and consistent. The farm’s soil health, biodiversity, and distribution program have benefited greatly from her thoughtful care and myriad contributions. On a personal level, Anna’s warm, friendly presence will be deeply missed by our staff, volunteers, and broader community. We wish her the very best in her next adventure, and look forward to following her progress as she begins farming on her own land in Haverhill.

Kari Bender, Co-Assistant Farm Manager

I endlessly learn from Anna’s ability to step back and holistically hold every effort we make in a context of care and reciprocity for the environment and for each other. Her values are forefront in everything that she does, and they are never compromised. I’m so grateful for the ways that she has grounded us every day in the “why” of our work, helping my wandering mind return to the reasons I’m here. We’re going to miss you so much next season Anna! We’ve got big shoes to fill and we’ll do everything we can to do right by the land and our team. I’m looking forward to staying in touch through the season and re-grounding together.

Chrissie Edgeworth, Co-Assistant Farm Manager

These last 3 years of my life have been spent alongside Anna and I’m grateful for every moment and every season. Some highlights that come to mind include admiring our resident blue heron, experimenting with fun summer cover crop mixes, crop planning alongside the wood stove during maple sugaring season, concocting weekly volunteer plans, and harvesting sweet peppers and tomatoes. Other sweet memories include trips to Rancatores or Bedford Farms for ice cream after a hot day. Anna is someone who I’ve looked forward to greeting with a smile every morning, who created space for collaboration and the sharing of ideas, who has empowered me to trust my inner farmer voice, who approaches every day with strength, brilliance, grace, and passion, and who has made a lasting impact not only on the soil health here at Gaining Ground, but also on the lives of all those she has mentored. I love her dearly, I’ll continue to incorporate her wisdom into my days, and I can’t wait to see how she continues to care for the land and her community at Late Bloom Farm.

Avery Indermaur, Field Crew / Volunteer and Outreach Manager

Anna is one of the most kind, thoughtful, generous, strong, smart, and passionate humans I have had the pleasure of knowing. She is an incredible mentor and friend, and I have learned so much from working alongside her these past three years. 

One of the first things I noticed about Anna was how deeply she connects to the world around her, from people to plants and everything in between. She has a gift for relating to others and making them feel welcomed in this space. Whenever we talk about someone new she met, the story almost always ends with her saying, “I don’t know, we just really connected!” This warmth and expansive generosity also characterizes her relationship to the land. She gives so much to the land and sees the holistic nature of farming systems. She has helped the farm move away from using plastic tarps and landscape fabric and continued to root our practices in building active, resilient, living soil. In her words, “We’re putting the matter back in organic matter!” I can’t think of anyone who embodies growing food and growing community more than she does. <3

Dani Capalbo, Communications and Development Manager

Although I’ve only worked with Anna for half a season, she feels like an old friend. Anna’s spirit, talents, and outlook on life immediately struck me as one-of-a-kind, and the way she has pursued her dream of Late Bloom Farm makes her a real role model to me. Anna doesn’t take life for granted and that energy comes through loud and clear in all that she does, especially the way that she respects and cooperates with all living beings—even the microscopic ones she can’t see, in the soil. She consistently uplifts those around her with her warm presence. The first time we met was technically during an E-Mass CRAFT workshop that she led in summer 2022, when I was an apprentice at Siena Farms. But our first intentional conversation was over Zoom in winter 2023, when I was working on a grant. I’ll never forget how Anna explained soil health to me in clear, understandable terms that revealed her respect for the land. I’ll always cherish our deep talks in the fields and in the barn.

Photo credit: top banner – Tony Rinaldo Photography