The Sudbury Foundation: Supporting Work That Goes Beyond Food Insecurity

Last year, Gaining Ground’s board and staff gathered over Zoom to participate in a workshop held by Jeff Rogers. Jeff is a leadership coach and facilitator who specializes in helping groups to collectively develop ideas and action steps to increase equity within organizations. 

He knows how to get important conversations to happen.

Teams discussed the ways farming as a profession could be made more sustainable, how to address the barriers that people face when trying to access the farm, participate as a volunteer, or join our board of directors, the importance of the history of the land we farm and our impact on its natural communities, and how to prioritize equity in the partners we work with and the crops we grow. 

The conversations he guided were enormously beneficial to the farm and the work we’ll be doing in the months and years to come—and they happened in part because of the generous support Gaining Ground receives from the Sudbury Foundation. In the past three years, the foundation has granted $300,000 to local nonprofits through its Racial Equity and Inclusion grant program.

“We want organizations to be able to start and continue these conversations around equity and inclusion, to move these conversations forward,” said Sonia Shah, the Sudbury Foundation’s executive director. “We are providing nonprofits like Gaining Ground with funding so that they can do their own equity work, specialize that work, and do whatever is most important for their particular organization.”

The Sudbury Foundation has long supported Gaining Ground in doing just that. The foundation works to transform lives and strengthen communities through grant making and scholarship programs in and around Sudbury. Their first grant to Gaining Ground was in 1997, and their support has continued in the years since through their farm and local food program, and—more recently—through their hunger-relief grant program, which came about in response to rising food insecurity stemming from the pandemic.

The need for racial equity and justice shows no sign of abating. The same can be said of the need for food security. At Gaining Ground, we have been able to grow more fresh produce for people struggling to access the food they need. Just as importantly, we have been able to begin the long-term process of examining our work through a lens of equity and justice, and taking steps to put needed changes into place. 

We couldn’t do this without the support of partners like the Sudbury Foundation, which understands the fundamental importance of growing strong, healthy communities.

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