The Practice of Growing

I love growing inside hoop houses! Compared to the unpredictable environment outdoors, growing inside gives us a season we can count on. Presently we have two hoop houses, where we can control temperature, humidity, and moisture. Among other things, this means we have unfrozen soil to dig our hands into for our first plantings of the season as early as March. It’s also a space that provides a structure for trellising cucumbers and tomatoes, and I love the precision and attention to detail required to prune and trellis those crops throughout the summer months. Best of all, these hoop houses continue to increase yields of tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer, and they extend the harvesting of greens into the cold winter months.

This spring we hope to double our indoor growing space. If the weather cooperates, in early spring we will start construction on two new hoop houses. This will give us almost another 5,000 square feet of indoor growing space. These houses will expand what we grow, expand our growing season, and give us the ability to offer more varieties of vegetables.

A few weeks ago, I met a large-animal veterinarian in Vermont who explained her work as “practicing veterinary medicine.” I told her I was going to steal that line. I love “practicing growing vegetables” at Gaining Ground. I love what this community has given me—a deep sense of pride in the work that we do and a strong connection to everyone involved, a unique space for me to practice growing as a person and a farmer, offering a balance of people and plants.

Each winter we look back on the year and add up the pounds of food we grew and how many people and families that food has fed. It’s a wonderful story, but just as important as our success is the strength we are growing in our community among the farmers, staff, volunteers, recipients, donors, and board members.

Here are my hopes for how Gaining Ground can continue to inspire all of these wonderful people each and every season: for the farmers who work alongside me, I hope for a greater depth of knowledge and experience; for the recipients, more dignity and respect; and for volunteers young and old, a sense of wonder and joy.

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