When It Rains, It Pours: A Look at the Growing Season so Far

Erin loads potatoes in the truck and a farmer bundles freshly picked scallions

It’s nearly September, and we’re well past the official midway point of the summer, which was August 7. 

During the second half of summer, the effects of the southward shift of the sun quickly become apparent on the farm. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, when autumn officially arrives in September, the sun will set in Concord just before 7 p.m., which translates to 126 fewer minutes of daylight than on August 7.

Not everyone enjoys seeing the end of summer approach, but the shorter days can bring a bit of relief with them. The long days of July and August are nothing short of exhausting for our seven-member farm team, who have been working at an incredible pace to keep up with the largest harvests of the season. Their tireless effort despite searing temperatures and pounding rain makes it possible for us to give away fresh, delicious produce each week to thousands of households without access to enough food. 

And this year’s weather has brought a bounty of additional challenges to the mix. 

Watermelons, and Anna moving crates of tomatoes.
Photo credit: Gaining Ground (left), Tony Rinaldo Photography LLC (top and right)

​​This summer has been a season of extremes—it was the hottest June on record for Boston and July was the wettest in Massachusetts history. These conditions have brought unprecedented pressure from diseases and pests to the fields at Gaining Ground and farms throughout the region

The unpredictable and extreme weather so far this season has made the farm’s operations more challenging than normal. Despite this, the farm has already donated over 60,000 pounds of food this year. We are incredibly grateful to our farmers and our supporters for making this possible.

We know that the quality and nutrient density of the food we grow is of critical importance to the health and wellbeing of the folks who receive our produce. Thankfully, awareness is growing that the nutritional content of accessible food is far more important than its caloric content alone. This serves as a valuable reminder of why our sustainable, regenerative, organic, and hyper-local practices matter—not just to us, but to the people who eat the food we grow, the living things above and within the soil at the farm, our neighbors, our friends, and our volunteers.  

Apples ripening on the tree and Rae harvesting squash.
Photo credit: Tony Rinaldo Photography LLC

“Our group had a tremendous time at Gaining Ground yesterday. Thank you for your lovely welcome and support… It was very moving to participate in Gaining Ground’s work and mission. What a profound service you provide to so many communities—on so many levels!”

Ellie, Lotus Arts Farm Sanctuary group

Although this year has been far from normal or easy—not just on the farm, but everywhere—we are grateful for how much opportunity we have nevertheless had to reconnect with our community. As of the end of July (the last full month for which we have numbers), we had welcomed 1,013 volunteers this season. Their dedication and hard work have helped us battle the weeds, care for our soil, and stay on top of our hefty summer harvests. They’ve also suffused the farm with warmth and energy all season long. We are thankful for the immense support they show to our hunger-relief work, and the continued bonds they sustain between our farm and the greater community.