Faber staff members recently got their hands dirty when they donated their time and efforts to helping feed individuals in need throughout Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts. Gaining Ground is an organization that grows organic produce and distributes it for hunger relief. With help from volunteers of all ages and abilities, Gaining Ground’s produce goes straight from the farm to homeless shelters, food pantries, and various local meal programs.
Volunteers are a major part of the Gaining Ground operation, performing almost 70% of the work required to manage the farm’s 20 acres of land. The organization receives help from more than 3,000 people every growing season, including elementary school students, high school athletes, corporate groups, and elderly volunteers. Gaining Ground also welcomes and appreciates assistance from people with various disabilities. “We believe that everyone has something to contribute,” states the organization’s website, “from planting beans in the ground, to tying flowers and herbs into bouquets for drying, to chopping wood for sugaring and harvesting cherry tomatoes.”
Faber Office Coordinator and Senior Administrative Assistant Patricia Wolfe coordinated the day of service for the firm. She says the volunteers were elbow-deep in sweet potatoes, one of the farm’s staples in its efforts to alleviate hunger. “We harvested about 1200 pounds of sweet potatoes,” explains Patricia. “We were all on our hands and knees working. I’m still kind of dirty a week later.”
She says the experience was an extremely positive one. “We got to spend time together outside of the office and a couple of people even brought their kids. It was great!”
For Gaining Ground, volunteering also provides an opportunity for teaching. Farm helpers receive a hands-on education about where food comes from and how plants grow. They also learn about sustainable farming practices and receive an “introduction to food insecurity and our hunger relief partners.”
The organization’s methodology is local and sustainable, with the majority of its produce distributed “within 20 miles of the farm and within 24 hours of harvest.” This approach impressed Pati as she searched for local volunteer opportunities. “We wanted to participate in something local and Gaining Ground is only two towns away.”
More than 800,000 Massachusetts residents struggle with hunger on a daily basis, not knowing where their next meals will come from. According to the Gaining Ground website, this represents a disturbing increase of 71% within the last decade. In addition, 1 in 8 children in Eastern Massachusetts are classified as food insecure.
Supporting local hunger relief was a perfect opportunity to further Faber’s philanthropic commitment. “Part of our mission is to do good in our community,” explains Patricia. “We try to do things that fall in line with our industry, but that’s not always possible on a small, grass roots level. Pharmaceutical companies are large and don’t generally have a lot of grass roots opportunities for us to give back. Gaining Ground gave us an opportunity to contribute to our own community.”
The Gaining Ground service day was the latest in a series of community service and philanthropic efforts undertaken by the Faber team. Generally coordinated with the quarterly all-firm meetings, the first firm-wide day of service was held in 2015 when firm members volunteered with Boston Cares to build beds for area children. In April 2018, staff members built 100 filters for global communities without access to clean water while volunteering with the non-profit organization Wine to Water. For years, the firm has helped sponsor and organize the annual BioBall basketball tournament, a fundraiser that benefits Special Olympics Massachusetts. In aggregate, Faber has provided more than $150,000 in financial support to this worthy cause, while also sending a team of committed volunteers each year to help ensure that the event runs smoothly.
Support for Gaining Ground can be accomplished through volunteering, monetary donations, or farm supply donations. Supporters can also purchase the Gaining Ground Table cookbook, with proceeds benefitting the organization’s efforts. To learn more, visit https://gainingground.org/support-us/.