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.
We work hard to grow high-quality produce, provide an exceptional experience to each volunteer, serve the needs of our recipients and maximize the generous support of our donors.
Throughout the harvest season, produce from Gaining Ground's farm goes to food pantries, meal programs and shelters in Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts. Our approach is local and sustainable – most of our produce is distributed within 20 miles of our farm and within 24 hours of harvest.
Some groups use our produce to prepare a free meal distributed to people who need it. Others give it away as part of providing free food to people who need it. Organizations we support include:
- Bedford Food Pantry - provides free groceries to any local resident who can establish need. Free community dinners are held weekly throughout the school year.
- Boston Area Gleaners - partners with farms to distribute produce to Food for Free, Greater Boston Food Bank and 20 small local food pantries.
- Community Teamwork - coordinates our free farmer's market with its nutritional programs for Head Start families in Lowell.
- Catholic Charities of Merrimack Valley -provides food to over 500 families each month from this Lowell Food Pantry.
- House of Hope - offers a safe home and meals for about 28 single mothers and their children in two homeless shelters in Lowell.
- Loaves and Fishes - exists as a mission of love and faith to provide food and temporary support services to residents of Ayer, Devens, Groton, Harvard, Littleton and Shirley.
- Lowell Transitional Living Center - provides meals, emergency shelter, services and supportive housing to those who are hungry, homeless, or who need support in the Lowell area.
- Mill City Grows - improves physical health, economic independence and environmental sustainability in Lowell through increased access to land, locally-grown food and education.
- Open Table - offers weekly community supper programs and food pantries in Concord and Maynard to more than 300 guests.
- Pine Street Inn - provides the largest permanent supportive housing, emergency shelter, job training and placement, street outreach for homeless men and women in New England.
- Rosie's Place - offers free "shopping" in its pantry to over 1,800 women monthly and serves over 100,000 healthy, delicious meals a year.
- Sudbury Food Pantry - distributes freely selected food without needs tests to about 30 families per week from Sudbury and more than 50 other towns.
- Westford Community Food Pantry - serves the COA community of Westford and neighboring towns including Littleton, Tyngsboro, Chelmsford, Carlisle, Acton and Groton.
Volunteers of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds perform almost 70% of the work in our gardens. We attract more than 3,000 volunteers every growing season – from 3rd graders to people in their 80s, from Scouts to corporate groups, from prep school athletes to people with disabilities. We believe that everyone has something to contribute, from planting beans in the ground, to tying flowers and herbs into bouquets for drying, to chopping wood for sugaring, and harvesting cherry tomatoes.
We offer hands-on educational and community service opportunities for individuals and groups. Volunteering at Gaining Ground offers:
- A chance to engage in meaningful hands-on work
- Knowledge of where food comes from and how plants grow
- An introduction to food insecurity and our hunger relief partners
- An opportunity to learn about sustainable farming practices
- A change of scene from your usual environment.