Share |

Gaining Ground, Inc.

 PO Box 374
 Concord, MA 01742
[P] (978) 610-6086
[F] (978) 610-6085
[email protected]
Amy Capofreddi
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-3083976

LAST UPDATED: 05/04/2016
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No



Mission StatementMORE »

Gaining Ground grows organic produce for hunger relief with help from volunteers of all ages and abilities, who work and learn in our gardens.

Mission Statement

Gaining Ground grows organic produce for hunger relief with help from volunteers of all ages and abilities, who work and learn in our gardens.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015
Projected Income $335,695.00
Projected Expense $335,695.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Farm volunteering
  • Growing organic produce for hunger relief

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Gaining Ground grows organic produce for hunger relief with help from volunteers of all ages and abilities, who work and learn in our gardens.

Background Statement

Founded in 1990, Gaining Ground has become a thriving non-profit organization that grows food for hunger relief with the help of hundreds of volunteers—and donates it to Boston and MetroWest hunger-relief organizations. Our volunteers include individuals of all ages, groups from a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, people in wheelchairs, and teenagers fulfilling court-mandated community-service hours.

  • 1990—Founded by Concord resident, Jamie Bemis
  • 1997—Started Old Manse garden (Trustees of Reservations property)
  • 1999—Established Thoreau Birthplace gardens (town land)
  • 2000—Initiated juvenile offender program, wrote first five-year plan.
  • 2001—Acquired truck/equipment, launched web site
  • 2003—Built garden pavilion, began Concord Food for Families (direct food distribution program)
  • 2004—Piloted Read for Seeds (educational outreach/fundraiser)
  • 2005—Hired new farm coordinator, constructed hoop green house
  • 2006—Brought electricity to the garden, increased outreach, created Strategic Plan
  • 2009 – Built a maple syrup boiling shack
  • 2009 – Added Massport Land adjacent to Thoreau Birthplace garden
  • 2009 – Added Carlisle to Food For Families Program
  • 2010 – Hired new farm coordinators & office coordinator
  • 2011 – Expanded Board of Directors to sixteen
  • 2012 – Purchased tractor 
  • 2013 – Added irrigation well and began high tunnel construction

Our Organization
Gaining Ground is managed by an active Board of Directors whose members represent diverse backgrounds in the arts, business, law, education, human services, public relations, and community activism. Gaining Ground has two year-round part-time employees —an Office Administrator who manages our office and grant writing program; and a Farm Coordinator, who directs our farm and volunteer program. Seasonal garden staff work in the gardens and with volunteers. This streamlined organizational structure enables us to provide exceptional volunteer opportunities and food for hunger relief with minimal overhead.

Our Gardens
Our main 9-acre farm is located on public land at the Thoreau Birthplace in Concord, MA—an historic site that has been under continual cultivation for more than 300 years. In 2010, we added two acres of land leased from Massport. We also maintain a kitchen garden designed by Thoreau at the Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts, home to Emerson and Hawthorne.

Who We Serve
We provide produce to nine local food pantries and meal programs, all within 20 miles of the farm.

Impact Statement

2014 Accomplishments
1. Food distribution: In 2014, Gaining Ground launched a new food distribution program to help us reach more urban families. In collaboration with Project Bread and Community Teamwork in Lowell, we began offering a weekly free farmers’ market for families with children at a Lowell Head Start center. The program helps low-income families with young children gain access to the nutritious fresh produce essential to healthy development. During the 16-week program we set up a weekly, free farmers’ market and introduced the produce and farming to the children. Families receive a variety of produce each week, sufficient for a small family. Project Bread provided food preparation demonstrations with a chef and nutritional information.
2. Volunteer involvement: We had a record number of volunteers visit the farm in 2014. Approximately 2,200 volunteers participated in farm operations from April through October. Volunteers included numerous school groups, disabled adults, faith organizations, corporate groups, families and individuals. Sugaring activities expanded volunteer opportunities into January and February. 
3. Food Production: In 2014, we achieved a record harvest, more than double our harvest in 2012. We supplied 57,000 pounds of top-quality, highly nutritious, organically-grown vegetables, fruit and herbs, as well as 30 gallons of maple syrup to emergency food programs. Produce we harvest before noon is delivered to food programs to be distributed that same day.
4. Capital improvements: We completed construction on a high tunnel – similar to a greenhouse – that covers field crops and creates a micro-climate that improves growing conditions earlier and later in the season. Tomatoes flourished under the high tunnel this season and the fall crop of spinach was harvested into December. This protected field space will help us extend our growing season through the fall and give our spring plantings an earlier start. We installed a permanent deer fence around the farm to minimize crop loss due to wildlife. We installed a new irrigation system off our new well so we will have year-round access to water.
5. Capacity Building:In 2013, the Board and the staff recognized the need to add structure and staff to remain successful and expand our reach. At that time, Gaining Ground operated with only two year-round staff positions – a Farm Coordinator and an Office Administrator. Critical program functions relied on the volunteer Board of Directors and seasonal farm staff during the growing season. The organization’s activities and program goals were outgrowing its capacity for fundraising and program management. In 2014, Gaining Ground hired a Program Manager to support Gaining Ground’s Food Distribution Program, Farm Volunteer Program and Community Communication. Fan Watkinson joined Gaining Ground in April. The addition of a Program Manager significantly improves our ability to carry out several goals:
  • Provide a safe, enjoyable, and engaging volunteer experience
  • Improve follow-up with farm volunteers to collect feedback and maintain engagement 
  • Identify and follow-up with volunteers interested in providing financial support
  • Better understand the organizations we supply – who they serve, how many, timing of their distributions, etc. – and build a stronger relationship with their staff and volunteers
  • Satisfy the needs of the organizations we supply in terms of what produce they receive, how the produce is packaged for pick up, pick up schedule, etc.
  • Raise community awareness of Gaining Ground through local newspaper articles and more frequent and engaging Facebook postings
  • Collect and summarize program measurement data on a monthly basis
2015 Goals
1. Grow more food. Our 2015 growing season will benefit from an early start under our new high tunnel. The new irrigation system will be operational during the season. We are also launching an initiative to aggressively build our soil quality by adding more compost, cover crops and mineral amendments. We have observed stronger, healthier, more pest-resistant and productive plants where we have concentrated our efforts to increase soil vitality. This will ultimately enable us to grow more food while remaining responsible stewards of the land resources we use.  
2. Create a Farm Apprentice Program. Our Farm Coordinators recognize that our blend of organic farming and meaningful community volunteerism offers a unique farm-learning opportunity for young farmers. In 2015, they are launching a Farm Apprenticeship program with two full-time, six month positions for young farmers to learn all aspects of the farm operations, the volunteer program, the food programs we supply, and the land and resources we use.
3.Support more emergency food programs. Our ability to regularly supply emergency food programs is subject to weather and growing conditions but in 2015 we will seek ways to add regular support to at least one more food program.
4. Design and site a barn for the farm. A barn provides a sheltered, well-organized space for farm staff and farm equipment, supplies and facilities. This capital investment will serve the farm for years to come, providing shelter for volunteers and farm supplies, and protecting the investments we have made in farm equipment

Needs Statement

1. Constituent Relationship Management system. Gaining Ground welcomes over 2,000 volunteers each year and reaches out to over 3,000 supporters with our newsletter and appeals. We are currently using different management tools for tracking volunteer, donor and supporter data that don't play well together. We are currently researching options we can use to implement a solution.
2. $10,000 - $20,000 Farm Apprentice Program
In addition to educating volunteers about organic farming and hunger relief, our farm offers a unique learning environment for young farmers. In 2015, we launched a Farm Apprenticeship program that offers an intensive six-month learning program on the operations of a small-scale, organic, sustainable farm that uses over 2,000 community volunteers each season. Our apprentice program prepares less experienced farmers to have a stronger working knowledge of organic agriculture, and practiced people skills working with community volunteers, so that they may serve future projects that aim to improve human health and environmental quality through organic practices. The program is going very well in its first year and we would like to continue to offer it next year. Total program cost is approximately $30,000 (compensation for apprentices and farm coordinators).
3. $9,000 Produce Cooler
Gaining Ground has successfully raised funds to build a barn on the farm to provide storage for farm equipment and add work space for volunteers and staff. As part of this project, we would like to install a walk-in produce cooler in the barn. The cooler would help us harvest produce at its peak and supply it more evenly across the different emergency food programs we supply and over the season. Initial quotes of an approximately 8’ x 8’ or 8’ x 10’ cooler vary between $7,500 - $8,000, not including delivery, installation and shelving costs.
4. $7,500 Maple Sugaring Program
In late winter, Gaining Ground taps maple trees throughout Concord and Carlisle. Volunteers visit the farm to learn informally about the process of boiling sap down to maple syrup. This is a high value product that is enthusiastically welcomed by the food programs we supply each year. The approximately six-week program (very weather dependent) is another way that we seek to make the most of the land and resources we have available to further our mission – growing organic produce for hunger relief with community volunteers. In the past few years we have offered a one-day open house to attract more people to the program – a low-key event with hot cider and maple-inspired treats. The cost of the program represents 80% of the Farm Coordinator salary for six weeks, annual equipment repairs and supplies, and transportation.

CEO Statement


Board Chair Statement

Our mission starts with the land. (We grow organic produce with the help of volunteers and give it all away.) My passion for our mission started on a cold April day, kneeling on wet ground and planting peas. It was fully grown by June when helping recipients to fill their bags with crisp sugar snaps.

This is how it starts with many of our board members. The land draws us in with its beauty and what it provides. Whether you are weeding carrot beds or harvesting beans, you get connected to the land, to the produce, to the folks who need nutritious food. The rub comes when board members realize that board work is more than spreading compost. Of course, from a governance perspective, this is an enviable challenge – passionate, committed board members willing to get their hands dirty, literally. The abstract work of governing – creating strategic plans, committee meetings, fund raising – can feel far removed from where the seed was planted.

The response to this challenge is to build connections among board members, volunteers, farmers, supporters and recipients. Farmers, volunteers, and board members work together in the fields. We bring supporters to the farm to help harvest and distribute food. Most importantly, we engage with recipients with direct food distribution, sharing recipes and learning about their lives. The connectivity helps us see that if we take good care of our land, it yields plentiful harvests which feeds more people. Seeing these connections, I believe, leads board members to understand their broader role of supporting the foundation of the organization. It is easier to understand why a new fund raising strategy needs to be discussed when you have experienced how increased resources have lead to more productive land and more potatoes, beans, carrots in the back of the truck headed to recipient meal programs and food pantries.

Geographic Area Served

City of Boston- Downtown

Gaining Ground supplies food pantries and meal programs in the following Massachusetts cities and towns: Boston (02118), Ayer, Bedford, Lowell, Sudbury, Westford, Concord, Carlisle, Maynard.

Organization Categories

  1. Food, Agriculture & Nutrition - Food Banks, Food Pantries
  2. Philanthropy,Voluntarism & Grantmaking Foundations - Voluntarism Promotion
  3. Environment - Land Resources Conservation

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Farm volunteering

Gaining Ground is open to volunteers Tuesday – Saturday each week from April until the end of October. The farm attracts hundreds of volunteers every growing season – from 3rd graders to people in their 80s, from Boy Scouts to juvenile offenders, from prep school athletes to the wheelchair-bound. Our farm coordinators match the skills and needs of the people who volunteer with the specific work that needs to be done on a specific day. We believe everyone has something to contribute to the farm.
A typical volunteer visit lasts 3 hours. We’re not teaching our volunteers to be farmers. We’re giving them an opportunity to help others in their community, and to learn about growing food in the process. They see tangible results of their labor, and know that the squash they pick today will end up on someone’s table tonight. We believe the work is the learning.
We budget this program together with growing organic produce. Please refer to that program for budget information.
Budget  $0.00
Category  Philanthropy, Voluntarism & Grantmaking, General/Other Community Service
Population Served General/Unspecified
Program Short-Term Success 
•    Volunteers on the farm nearly every available day through the growing season.
•    A diverse volunteer population that includes physically challenged or mentally disabled volunteers, juvenile offenders, elementary through college students, a range of faith organizations, corporate groups, families, and individuals of all ages.
•    Repeat visits by volunteers throughout the season or year over year.
•    Participation across the public and private school systems in Concord and Carlisle in farm visits.
Program Long-Term Success 
All members of a community, regardless of age or abilities, have a meaningful and joyful opportunity to give back to others.
Meaningful volunteer opportunities serves the fundamental human need to be engaged in an activity with a sense of contribution and of self-value. Volunteerism increases self-esteem, and in turn, the capacity to treat others with respect and generosity. 
Program Success Monitored By  Program success is monitored by:
•    Number of volunteers or volunteer groups that visit the farm each year
•    Schedule of volunteer visits throughout the season
•    Volunteer feedback card suggestions
•    Informal tracking of the diversity of the volunteer population to determine if we are attracting the diverse population we intend to serve
Examples of Program Success 
•    Volunteer groups from Walnut Street Center (a nonprofit that supports disabled adults and their families) have been coming to the farm every season for 10 years. They love working hard where they have a chance to give back to others. Their work at Gaining Ground inspired them to create a community garden at their Somerville location.
•   Over the years we have helped hundreds of Concord-Carlisle high school students fulfill their community service requirements.
•   Our farmers witness individual growth in volunteers: a young man fulfilling mandated community service through Restorative Justice went from shy and uninterested in socializing to happy, focused and excited at finding a place where he belonged; a volunteer with an austism spectrum disorder evolved from disengaged to a productive volunteer over the course of a season.
•   Volunteers report back Gaining Ground's inspiration: starting gardens, pursuing a career in farming, inspiring learning about food and hunger.

Growing organic produce for hunger relief

Gaining Ground grows organic vegetables and fruit on historic farmland in Concord, MA, and gives away all of this produce to area food pantries and meal programs.
Currently we support ten food pantries and meal programs in Boston and the MetroWest region. Food for Families is our direct distribution program which offers weekly distributions of organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers from June to October,  as well as a Thanksgiving distribution.
Budget  157,477
Category  Food, Agriculture & Nutrition, General/Other Food
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 
Each growing season, Gaining Ground contributes 20,000 - 30,000 pounds of high-value, nutritious, fresh organic produce that contributes to an overall healthy diet to families and individuals experiencing difficulty affording food.
Program Long-Term Success 
Long-term success means people experiencing food insecurity and who turn to emergency food programs in Boston and the MetroWest region have access to organic, high quality, fresh produce in season.
Nationally accepted nutrition guidelines emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables as the source for needed nutrients and fiber that support overall health. However, Director General of the World Health Organization observed in 2008 that nutritious foods are often the first to be eliminated when funds for buying food are limited: “Food choices are highly sensitive to price. The first items to drop out of the diet are usually healthy foods – fruit, vegetables, and high-quality sources of protein. … Nutrient-poor staples are often the cheapest way to fill hungry stomachs.” 
Program Success Monitored By 
We monitor the food production and distribution program by tracking:
  • The type and weight of produce we distribute.
  • The number of organizations we support, and how frequently we distribute to them, including the Food for Families program.
  • For Food for Families specifically, the number of households and individuals included in the program.
  • Feedback from recipients on their satisfaction with the type and quality of produce, as well as our service in providing it
Examples of Program Success  Each year we collect feedback from recipient groups on how to improve our programming. We hear repeatedly that the program is highly valued:
•    Gaining Ground has worked many years with Pine Street Inn (Boston) and Open Table (Concord and Maynard). Both organizations have the capacity to take all the produce we provide them and prepare fresh meals that are provided to low-income/homeless individuals.
•    Pine Street Inn reports it’s been wonderful to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their menus. Gaining Ground produce has made it easier for them to make their menus healthier. 
•    A family unable to afford fresh produce loved having vegetables as part of well-balanced meals.
•    A recipient reported that the great vegetables definitely helped stretch the food budget.
•    Food pantries tell us the produce is nearly always used up
•    The Asian population of a food pantry appreciated the more exotic greens.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Mr. Joe Rigali
CEO Term Start Jan 2012
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience --
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --


Award Awarding Organization Year
Climate for Freedom Award for significantly contributing to the climate for freedom in our communities Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council 2014
Included Gaining Ground in the Good Food Org Guide - one of five MA non-profits doing exemplary work in the areas of food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice James Beard Foundation and Food Tank 2014
Program Innovation Award to Community Teamwork in Lowell for its partnership with Gaining Ground Massachusetts Head Start Association 2014


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


In 2014, in collaboration with Project Bread and Community Teamwork in Lowell, we began offering a weekly free farmers’ market for families with children at a Lowell Head Start center to help us reach more urban families. The program helps low-income families with young children gain access to the nutritious fresh produce essential to healthy development. During the 16-week program we set up a weekly, free farmer's market and introduced the produce and farming to the children. Families receive a variety of produce each week, sufficient for a small family. Project Bread provided food preparation demonstrations with a chef and nutritional information. The Children's Village at the Mill Head Start enthusiastically hosted the site and helped coordinate with participating parents. The program was highly successful and will be repeated in 2015.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 3
Number of Part Time Staff 4
Number of Volunteers 2,200
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 7
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): Not specified
Gender Female: 6
Male: 2
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit --
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A


Board Chair Mr. Joe Rigali
Board Chair Company Affiliation GW&Wade,LLC
Board Chair Term Jan 2012 - Dec 2016
Board Co-Chair Francine Royce
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term Jan 2012 - Dec 2016

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Penny Austen Community Volunteer Voting
Linda Booth Sweeney Writer, The Balaton Group, WGBH Voting
Pamela Goar no affiliation Voting
Jessica Huddy Studio-e Voting
Sue Mildrum Constant Contact --
Amy Noordzij no affiliation Voting
Elizabeth Paley Acton Council on Aging Voting
Joseph Rigali GW & Wade Associates Voting
Timothy Rodgers no affiliation Voting
Lucy Rosborough no affiliation Voting
Francine Royce no affiliation Voting
Karen Schmidt no affiliation --
Gary Vilchick Retired --
Jeff Young Young Ideas Painting and Design Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Lorin Demuth CCHS Student Voting

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 16
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 11
Male: 5
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 4
Board Meeting Attendance % 73%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No

Standing Committees

  • Community Outreach / Community Relations
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Facilities
  • Finance
  • Nominating
  • Volunteer

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015
Projected Income $335,695.00
Projected Expense $335,695.00
Form 990s

2014 990

2013 990

2012 990

2011 990

2010 990

2009 990

2008 990

Audit Documents

2014 Reviewed Financial Statements

2013 Reviewed Financial Statements

2012 Reviewed Financial Statements

2011 Review

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Total Revenue $452,520 $315,255 $246,834
Total Expenses $266,641 $209,589 $172,516

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $435,179 $303,674 $232,576
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $3,800 $3,998 $4,537
Investment Income, Net of Losses $928 $563 $402
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events $12,613 $7,020 $9,319
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Program Expense $196,102 $137,429 $107,784
Administration Expense $38,619 $56,393 $59,596
Fundraising Expense $31,920 $15,767 $5,136
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.70 1.50 1.43
Program Expense/Total Expenses 74% 66% 62%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 7% 5% 2%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Total Assets $748,050 $552,477 $440,594
Current Assets $505,924 $433,589 $340,085
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $20,435 $10,741 $4,524
Total Net Assets $727,615 $541,736 $436,070

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 24.76 40.37 75.17

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in charts and graphs are per the organization's IRS 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

Gaining Ground offers a unique combination of hunger relief and community volunteerism. All of the food we grow is given away to people who need it, for free. This refreshingly simple approach lets us focus on meeting the needs of our recipients and volunteers. It lets us provide healthy produce to people who need it most, while offering new volunteer opportunities to a wide range of people and promoting awareness of hunger relief needs.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

Gaining Ground employs two primary strategies that have enabled us to achieve our mission:

  • Growing organic, nutrient-dense produce to supply meal programs and food pantries:
    We grow over 300 varieties of organic vegetables and fruits, including many heirloom varieties of tomatoes, summer squash, potatoes, greens, strawberries and more. The diversity of our garden lets us serve our recipient groups well throughout the growing season.
  • Creating a meaningful volunteer work experience for a wide variety of volunteers:
    Gaining Ground attracts more than 1,000 volunteers every growing season – from 3rd graders to people in their 80’s, from Boy Scouts to juvenile offenders, from prep school athletes to the wheel-chair bound. For all our volunteers, the farm is a place to connect to the land, to contribute and to learn. In many ways, our farm is a classroom. We give our volunteers the opportunity to help others in the community and to learn in process. Mostly the learning is context-driven and experiential. One day, if it’s buggy, the learning might be about bugs. Another day, if it hasn’t rained in a few weeks, the learning may be about irrigation.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

The foundation of Gaining Ground's efforts is a combination of seven acres of leased land, farmed organically; a dedicated full-time farmer with seasonal help; a growing network of community volunteers; a hands-on board of directors and vibrant local partners seeking to heighten collective impact in the area of hunger relief.

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

We measure the progress of Gaining Ground via a diverse set of indicators, including:

  • Yearly produce production: In 2013, we harvested 32,000 pounds of produce and 40 gallons of maple syrup
  • Diversity of crops: 55 different crops harvested in 2013
  • Number of households: we support over 200 individuals and households via direct distribution of food.
  • Number of volunteers: Over 1600 volunteers worked nearly 5000 hours during the 2013 growing season
  • Soil quality: we continue to improve and measure the over-all quality of our soil through sustainable farming methods
  • Meal programs: we continue to expand the reach of our food distribution to programs such as Pine Street Inn, Loaves & Fishes and Head Start and others

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Gaining Ground has had a significant and deep impact on hunger relief through the distribution of fresh produce to meal programs, food pantries and directly to families through its "Food for Families" program.

We have also created a vibrant volunteer community.

We are looking forward to developing the following:

  • Acquiring land for additional production capacity
  • Improving our farm facilities to extend our growing season
  • Creating more community-wide collaborations to achieve even greater collective impact in the area of hunger relief
  • Strengthening our organizational infrastructure by hiring fundraising and program managers