Rooted in Change: Seasonal Transitions and Sustainable Solutions on Virginia Road 

The season is kicking into gear, and at the farm on Virginia Road our team is busy with all of the tasks that mark the coming of spring. 

We farmers kept busy through winter harvesting from high tunnels, repairing tools, crop planning, building out farm infrastructure, and much more. Now we’re thrilled to welcome back our seasonal crew as we shift our focus toward spring and summer crops. We are incredibly lucky to have three talented seasonal farmers from 2023 return with the know-how that will enable us to start the season off as a well-oiled machine—and the passion to keep us growing and improving in our systems and practices. We’ll also welcome two new crew members who are ready to dive into the work and share their diverse experiences and skill sets. 

We’re not only looking forward to trialing new crops such as ginger, turmeric, and bunching broccoli, but also to challenging ourselves to improve the efficiency of our systems, deepen our connection to the land, and advance our vision of an equitable food system. This includes helping our thousands of volunteers remain active in systems transformation after they leave the farm.

We also plan to explore practices like kelp foliar sprays and brewing our own compost teas to improve the health and nutrition of our crops. For example, we’d love to grow larger beets! Through our winter research we learned that foliar sprays may help us achieve this outcome by increasing micronutrient uptake and photosynthetic efficiency. With organic mulches and cover crops already abundant in our system, we’ll continue building soil fertility and feeding the microbes.

We’ll also trial trellised pole beans this year in hopes of avoiding the difficulties of bush bean harvests, by creating a more ergonomic and efficient system for all involved. Visitors to the farm may also notice a slight shift in the visual landscape, as half our low tunnels will move to our farthest field (affectionately known as Alaska) to break up pest cycles on crops like eggplant, peppers, and cucumbers by creating more physical distance between crop rotations.

Beyond the fields, the farm team will think critically about our role as educators and advocates for a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. As an organization that helps bring food to the plates of folks disadvantaged by an unjust food system, we are acutely aware that the solution to entrenched failures of our existing system is much larger than Gaining Ground. As citizens looking toward a future where we are all nourished, we all share the responsibility of creating an equitable food system. So as we plant our beds of lettuce, harvest our tomatoes, and water our greenhouse, we will also research and share information on the farm bill, other local farms, and how to interrogate and leverage our own roles, privilege, and power to spark change in the food system. 

We look forward to seeing you in the fields this year, getting our hands dirty together, and continuing to strive toward a future where everyone has equitable access to healthy, sustainably grown produce. Let’s grow our veggies together while cultivating the seeds of change that we want to see in the world!

Banner image: The land on Virginia Road that we’ve cultivated for 20+ years, donating everything we grow to promote food security in the region. Inset image, left to right: Farm Co-Manager Kari Bender takes notes on the day’s work, Farm Co-Manager Chrissie Edgeworth digs into the soil. Photos 1 and 2 by Tony Rinaldo, Photo 3 by Mark Congdon.