Gaining Ground Sows New Strategic Plan

After the completion of our five year strategic plan, “Dig Deeper,” the Gaining Ground board tackled the question: “What’s Next?”

Our 2011 strategic plan, “Digging Deeper,” focused primarily on growing more food for our recipients. We were successful in achieving that goal, expanding from 25,000 pounds in 2012 to 62,000 in 2016. That increase was accomplished with major investments in infrastructure—equipment, deer fencing, hoop house, well and irrigation, barn, and people, adding an assistant farm manager and hiring a farm manager with related expertise.

The other two key components of our organization, recipient organizations and volunteers, were expanded by a mid-course hiring of a program manager, a natural step due to our growth. The number of volunteers has more than doubled under the 2011 plan, and we greatly improved management and scheduling of volunteers while preserving the pleasure and authenticity of the volunteer experience. We increased the diversity of our recipient organizations, developed criteria for recipient relationships, and began to search for recipient partners that could increase the impact of our food distribution.

2017–20 Strategic Plan

The Gaining Ground board recognizes that growth is necessary to keep the organization vibrant, and also that it is important to grow carefully, to preserve the power, focus, and feel of a small mission. One of our original values is celebrating the power of small. So for now, the board and staff are seeking ways to grow without significant increases in land, staff, and budget. Working together with a guide, Kristi Keinholz, and with leaders of other hunger relief organizations, we have developed the initiatives that follow to propel GG forward.

The initiatives fall into two major categories:

  1. To continue to grow more produce through innovation and additional infrastructure and technology with a goal of 80,000 pounds by year three of this plan.
  2. To expand our mission’s reach and impact by working:
    1. to increase the benefit to the families we serve by partnering with recipient organizations to add impact to our food distribution through education, cooking classes, meal preparation.
    2. to measure impact as well as possible and communicate findings to our stakeholders.
    3. to deepen engagement with volunteers with more on-the-farm education about hunger relief, to inspire volunteers to take action to be a part of the solution and to become donors.
    4. to explore the feasibility of growth by spreading the Gaining Ground model of volunteer powered farms growing food for free in other interested communities.
    5. to continue to develop a communications plan that will raise awareness of and familiarity with Gaining Ground’s work among key audiences using varied channels.

The 2017 Plan, “Expanding Our Reach and Impact,” presents fitting and exciting challenges for Gaining Ground. Those challenges will keep us striving to improve the lives of people in need and to increase our role, along with many other organizations, to cultivate a better, more equitable food system.