Plan The Work, Work The Plan

Board Service InfoGraphicHope everyone had a fabulous summer. Local farmers report it was one of the best tomato growing seasons in recent memory! Lots of work. Lots of rewards.

Now that we’ve had our first frost and are all coming up for air, we’re ready to resume our second Tuesday of the month one hour coalition meetings at 5:15 at the Downtown Foundation Offices.

A few updates:

FIRST: The work on the 18 month USDA Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grant feasibility study for starting a food hub in Walla Walla continues (project ends March 31, 2020). The summer was spent working through the collected data and distilling it down into digestible nuggets. That process continues. We still need many more buyers to take the buyers survey. If you know an institutional buyer in our 5 county region who says they want to buy more locally sourced food, please ask them to take the survey. All the details can be found at https://wwvfsc.org/2019/05/01/buyers-institution-survey-live/

SECOND: After a summer off, we’re ready to resume our second Tuesday of the month meetings starting on October 8th. We meet at the Downtown Foundation office for about an hour starting at 5:15. PLEASE JOIN US! The work we do in the next 8 months is critical to our future endeavors.

THIRD: We have an intern! Walker Orr is our Whitman Intern for the 2019/2020 academic year. He will be meeting with us at our monthly meetings over the next 8 months to shepherd us through the process of choosing a business structure for the organization. Here’s a write up of his job duties for the WWVFSC and an outline of what our coming meetings will look like.

Currently, the Walla Walla Valley Food System Coalition is a loosely affiliated group of farmers, non-profits, government agencies and interested community members who meet monthly. Our primary focus for 2018/2019 has been administering a USDA Local Food Promotion Program grant for a feasibility study on building a food hub in the Walla Walla Valley. But as this vision moves forward, we will need to more formally solidify our business structure. (Non-profit? Cooperative? For profit? B Corp?) How we do this will affect what grants and loans we are able to apply for in the future.

Iowa State University has an excellent three part toolkit for Local Food Organization. It includes 1) Defining your organization’s focus and leadership, 2) Organizational structure, and 3) Funding your local food organization. We need help with parts of #1 and all of #2. We HAVE the template, but all of the partners are extremely busy with their other work in the community and none of us has time to do the background research and then facilitate the monthly meeting work it will take to lead us through these steps. Walker will be that facilitator!

Tasks: Background research, and then present to the Walla Walla Valley Food System Coalition group on the second Tuesday of the month. Presentation/Discussion should take approximately 45 minutes. Homework for the next meeting may be assigned to members, and any follow up documentation sent out within the week of the meeting.

October 8th meeting

  • Review core values (from the meeting Lydia ran in the spring)
  • Discuss Board of Directors roles – review legal obligations (see attached for quick overview)
  • Review outline of path moving forward for the next 7 months.

November 12th meeting

  • Key questions pros/cons for choosing a business structure – general overview
  • Non-profit discussion. What does this look like in WA state? Federally? Possibility of a fiscal sponsor? Aka an umbrella organization. Their board would dictate how funds are spent.

December 10th meeting

  • Cooperative. Important to research what this looks like in Washington state ahead of time.

January 14th meeting

  • For profit discussion.

February 11th meeting

  • Quick review of choices. VOTE. Set up something online so people can vote online if they can’t come to the meeting.

March 10th

  • Legal status/Paperwork – How do we file? Finding a lawyer.

April 14th

  • Draft of Bylaws & Governance types.

LASTLY, if you made it this far, our lovely Lydia Caudill, who was the chief administrator for the organization, has left us for a Food System masters program in Eugene Oregon. We miss her already, and  fully expect to recruit her back to Walla Walla when she’s done! In the meantime, Jennifer Kleffner, owner of Miles Away Farm, is now the wizard behind the curtain.

Warm regards everyone, and hope to see you next Tuesday!

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