On Saturday, April 29, seven Concord Academy students and two faculty chaperones volunteered at Gaining Ground, an organic, non-profit farm in Concord, Massachusetts dedicated to donating fresh produce to those in need. The farm focuses on sustainability by using no-till practices and cultivating a variety of crops in order to maintain soil health and biodiversity in their fields.
Once the students arrived at Gaining Ground, they attended a short informational session about the farm where they learned about the systemic issues surrounding food insecurity, and how Gaining Ground is trying to combat them. Additionally, they learned how volunteers contribute to and support their mission. The students then began preparing one of the fields to grow a variety of crops, including beets and mustard greens for the new farming season.
At the beginning of their volunteering shift, students were split into two groups. The first group worked with the broad fork, a farming implement used for breaking up the soil, as opposed to using tilling practices which can be harmful for the environment. The second group removed old broccoli stems and other debris from the field. Then, for the second half of the session, CA students and faculty members worked together to spread compost on top of the field. This ensured that the soil would recover the nutrients it had lost from the previous farming season.
In less than two hours, the volunteers were able to prepare almost an entire field for the coming year. “I hope that CA students [learned] that every bit of volunteering can make a difference,” said Mia Sinno Smith ’25, a Community Action Representative for the 2022-23 academic year, who organized and participated in the volunteer experience. Mia later added that, “It’s a win-win-win [situation]: we were simultaneously able to help provide food to those in need, while lending a hand to a local community, while getting the joy of giving back to our community,” she added. Not only does volunteering make a difference to Gaining Ground and their mission, it also positively impacts the volunteers themselves and gives them a sense of greater purpose and fulfillment.