The Abundance of Four Seasons

Watermelons and spinach harvested on the farm

Each season at Gaining Ground brings challenges as well as successes; rewarding reminders of the impact and importance of our hunger-relief mission. Foremost among these in 2021 was the return of our volunteer program after a pandemic-driven hiatus. The joy of those first April volunteers was undeniable in their warm smiles, rolled-up sleeves, and dirt-caked hands. Connecting with the land, learning from knowledgeable farmers, enjoying the beauty and tranquility of nature, and working together to improve the lives of our neighbors experiencing food insecurity—these were among the gifts that blossomed forth from our renewed 2021 volunteer program.

Following one of the driest, hottest summers on record in 2020, last year’s farming season showed a decidedly different face. Fields saturated with inches of standing rainwater in July posed challenges for crops and farmers alike, resulting in disease and pest pressure and lower harvests. Regenerative farming asks of us patience, flexibility, and a willingness to invest in a deep, reciprocal relationship with the earth. Gaining Ground’s seven farmers worked tirelessly throughout the growing season to nourish the soil, care for the plants, and gratefully gather what the land yielded. Over 2,100 volunteers joined us between April and October, helping to harvest 98,116 pounds of fresh, nutritious food for those in need. Together, we worked hard as a community striving for equitable access to fresh, healthy produce for all.

In partnership with 18 local hunger-relief organizations reaching from Chelsea to Lowell, Gaining Ground distributed more than 392,000 individual servings of fruits and vegetables to more than 1,200 households weekly in 2021. The appreciation expressed by our partner representatives reflects the meaningful and positive impact that our work has on individuals and families experiencing food insecurity:

The produce from Gaining Ground is of such high quality that folks in the neighborhood are always asking us when we will have more of it. For many of our recipients, they have to deal with food that is often low-quality, leftovers, or near or at expiration—the message they get is that they are a lower priority than people who can pay. When they are able to get fresh, high-quality produce from Gaining Ground instead it enriches them, not just in terms of nutrition but in the dignity of being treated as equals.

—Maxwell Chezem, Eastie Farm, East Boston

Despite weather-related hurdles, our 28th growing season demonstrated that the dual mission of Gaining Ground—growing food and growing community—will continue to improve and enrich the lives of thousands of people across eastern Massachusetts. Our success is made possible by a dedicated board of directors, competent staff, our distribution partners and volunteers, and exceedingly generous supporters. Tremendous thanks to all.

We are fortunate to partner with the following organizations to address food insecurity in the greater Boston area:

Bedford Food Bank

Bridge Boston Charter School, Roxbury

Community Teamwork/Head Start, Lowell

Daniel’s Table, Framingham

East Boston Community Soup Kitchen

Eastie Farm, East Boston

Food for Families, Concord

Healthy Waltham

House of Hope, Lowell

Loaves and Fishes, Devens/Ayer

Lowell Transitional Living Center

Open Table, Maynard/Concord

Salvation Army of Chelsea and East Boston

Sudbury Food Pantry

Westford Council on Aging

Women’s Lunch Place, Boston

, , ,