Food for Thought

Why do I volunteer at Gaining Ground? Interesting question. I started there because I was looking for a way to be useful in this world. I stayed because I get more than I give.

So what do I get? I get enough hard, physical work to avoid feeling like I should go for a run or some other even less enjoyable “good for me” exercise. And a good excuse to avoid those things is always welcome. But even better, I get to spend a few hours a week with kind, funny, optimistic people. People who have chosen to pursue the common good over personal gain. And that helps me keep hopeful and believe in the possibility of grace in this weary world.

I go for the aesthetic pleasure of a well-run farm. The fields are things of beauty and magic. Alchemy of good dirt, hard work, tiny seeds or seedlings turning into thousands of pounds of food. The harvested vegetables are something out of a Dutch master’s still life. The scents, the tastes, the smells. Gorgeous!

I go for the stream of interesting and mostly happy volunteer groups that come and go. People from schools, travelers, corporate groups, so many different people with whom I would otherwise never get to speak. A few hours weeding next to a teenager flirting with a classmate, or a Google employee talking about tech things I barely understand are just good fun, if a bit sweaty.

I go to get good and dirty. The kind of dirty we adults rarely enjoy. The kind of dirty that earns some interesting looks when I go shopping on the way home, leaving me chuckling. I go to ponder the startling contrast between a corporate jet roaring by overhead from Hanscom Field and the people in the fields working with their hands in one of humanity’s oldest continual activities.

Food for thought. Food for the soul. And food for the hungry. What could be better?


Above: Susan (in hat) harvesting green beans at Gaining Ground with her friend Edith.