What’s the Plan?

Board president Polly Vanasse holding a leek at the farm, the barn with the GG weathervane

As Paul Simon sang to me yesterday, “Make a new plan, Stan.” Every five or so years, Gaining Ground is tasked with creating a new strategic plan. It’s an opportunity for the board of directors and the staff to steer the organization toward ambitious goals and new horizons.

Our latest plan, formally adopted in November but begun last year, is exciting for so many reasons: It will be the first one with an executive director at the helm; the first with an explicit emphasis on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion; and the first written in a pandemic and climate crisis.

Crafting this plan required the entire board and staff to contribute their expertise and vision, to work together in teams, and to listen with open minds to each other’s ideas and concerns. As the newly elected board president in 2021, I approached the process with some trepidation. What I have found has been heart-warming and encouraging. First, we reviewed and updated the farm’s mission, vision, and values to be sure they clearly reflect who we are in 2022 and who we want to be in the near future. The mission, restated:

To provide free, sustainably grown, fresh organic produce to people experiencing food insecurity. We do this with the helping hands of a diverse community of volunteers who work and learn with us on our farm.  

Anna speaking to a crowd at a no-till event, the board visiting Bridge Boston Charter School

We broke into three working teams, each with a specific focus. Workshops that were centered around diversity, equity, and inclusion encouraged us to integrate racial and climate justice-related work into every area of the plan. Over the summer, a small group worked to define our financial goals. The resulting five-year strategic plan has three pillars. First is “Extending our Reach to Increase our Impact,” which lays out paths for increasing food production. The second, “Enriching Our Community,” will grow the volunteer programs, continue to diversify the board of directors, and enlarge our partner communities. The third pillar is “Ensuring Long-Term Financial Stability and Growth,” so that all these initiatives can happen.

Volunteers working on a bed, the team visiting Eastie Farm

We do not engage in this effort alone. Many of our partners inform our work and inspire us. Gifted facilitators and consultants have guided and shaped our efforts. Our donors, more generous than ever, have given us a financial platform from which to imagine the future as it might be.

And so, as 2022 comes to an end, we thank you for your faith in our mission and our ability to execute it. Thanks to the amazing farmers who grow such beautiful food, to our partners who make deep connections to those who need our food, to our donors and grantors, to the dedicated staff, and to our hard-working board and volunteers. This Gaining Ground community is a shining beacon that continues to draw us in, for our work is meaningful and our participation is ever joyful.

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