Gaining Ground grows organic produce for hunger relief with help from volunteers of all ages and abilities, who work and learn in our fields. In short, we grow food and we give it away to people who need it. For free. This refreshingly simple approach lets us focus on meeting the needs of our volunteers and the people we help feed. These two aspects of our work are closely intertwined – one wouldn’t work without the other.
— Mission Statement from GainingGround.org
Boston Tutoring Services recently spoke with Gaining Ground, a nonprofit organic farm in Concord, Massachusetts. Kayleigh Boyle, a Farm Coordinator at Gaining Ground, opened up about the organization’s mission, volunteer work, and growth over the years.
Boston Tutoring Services: How did your organization get started?
Kayleigh Boyle: Gaining Ground has been cultivating Concord land for twenty years. We began operating in 1994 as a small garden on private land. In 1997, we began managing the reproduction kitchen garden at The Old Manse, a Trustees of Reservations property. In 1999, we established our main farm adjacent to the Thoreau birthplace house on Virginia Road. In 2009, we expanded operations to an adjacent field under license from Massport. We now have 20 acres of land, three of which are used for growing crops.
BTS: Which towns and communities does your organization reach?
KB: We donate 100% of the food grown at the farm. We donate to food pantries and hunger relief organizations in: Bedford, Westford, Boston, Lowell, Devens, Concord and Sudbury. Most of these pantries serve their surrounding communities as well. We also take volunteers of all ages and abilities at the farm. Last year we worked with 1,800 individuals from places surround the farm in Concord.
BTS: How old should children be in order to be able to participate and get involved?
KB: We take volunteers as young as 5 years old, accompanied by a parent.
BTS: What is the best thing that children can learn from working with your organization?
KB: We use a work and learn model for all volunteers visiting the farm. Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the farm work and work alongside a full time Gaining Ground farmer for the most beneficial experience. The farm provides a place for hands on learning about where food comes from, and how it is grown. We grow everything organically, so all tasks have an emphasis on sustainability
BTS: In establishing your organization, what were the goals/mission statement for giving back to the community?
KB: Our mission statement is: Gaining Ground grows food for hunger relief with the help of volunteers of all ages and abilities. We consider our mission two-fold, we donate our produce to hunger relief while working with community volunteers and teaching them the importance of growing food on small farms using organic methods.