2012 22.4 A Message from the President & The Executive Director

Autumn is upon us and with it emerges a new energy. The days are shortening and the night temperatures are cooling. Change is in the air and Tilth Producers is embracing transformation as we enter the final quarter of this year.

Operational Updates

Executive director Amy Besunder has been instituting new internal systems and engaging in community outreach. She also planned our first gala benefit auction, “Under the Harvest Moon,” that took place on September 15th. Program director Nancy Allen is doing an excellent job keeping the committees, grants, and programs running successfully. Ariana Taylor Stanley is representing the voice of Tilth Producers members in the policy arena, and Melanie McConachie is busy keeping the office intact. We also have several new volunteers supporting staff.

Farm Walks

This year we explored new farming opportunities in our Farm Walk program. We launched our season with a visit to Hama Hama Oyster Company where we learned how to farm shellfish. We traveled to Sunfield Farm, a Waldorf school with an educational program focusing on sustainable land stewardship. We toured over 150 varieties of flower cultivation at Jello Mold Farm. This Farm Walk season has inspired us so much that we’ve decided to expand the program in 2013. Please let us know specific topics you’d like to learn about or farms you’d like to visit.

Board of Directors Nominations

It is that time of year when we ask our members to consider serving a two-year term on the Board of Directors. Board elections take place on Sunday November 11th during the Tilth Producers annual membership meeting at the conference. We are seeking more representation from the eastside, specifically in tree fruit production, financial management, and fundraising. We also welcome participation on the Conference, Policy, Research, and Farm Walk Committees.

The current Board is a skilled and congenial group, representing a great mix of young and not-so-young, experienced, and beginning farmers. Members are namely farmers and are hard working with great common sense. Having a Board with the right mix of skills is key to the organization’s success. Participation is gratifying and it is fun to work with so many great people. Please consider running for election. Feel free to contact the office or any of the current Board members for more information, or submit a nomination online at tilthproducers.org.

Organizational Growth

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve been awarded two USDA grants to support the expansion of our educational programming. Thanks to this funding, we will hire an Educational Coordinator in the fall 2012 quarter.

Amy has begun working with board members to re-evaluate the benefits of working Board versus governing Board organizational models for Tilth Producers. Our goal is to transfer more work to staff and reduce the workload for Board members. The Board will set direction, programming, and policies of the organization, while staff will implement programs and guide the Board in decision-making.
We will discuss these broader organizational transitions at this January’s Board retreat. If you have experience on positive working models for boards that you would like to share, please contact Amy or Diane at 206-632-7506.

Developing Leadership

One goal of the Board is to cultivate leaders to help change the food paradigm. The experience that a member gains on the Board serves to enable and encourage people to take on leadership roles in their own communities. Being on a committee, taking on a project, running an event, or speaking at the annual conference are great leadership opportunities. Pairing experienced Board members with new Board members is another way we plan to expand our leadership development activities. If you have ideas related to this please contact Amy or Diane. Now is the time for us to encourage new leaders in the organic and sustainable agriculture community!

There is a lot of energy building at Tilth Producers and we are effecting change. Thank you for your membership support, volunteering, donating to the organization, and participating in our programs. As always, we appreciate your hard work in improving the health of our communities and natural environment. See you in November!

Tags: Amy Besunder, Board of Directors Nominations, Diane Dempster, Educational Coordinator, Executive Director, President, USDA Grant