Beard Foundation Presents Leadership Awards

From the NYT:
“Ben Burkett is still farming a parcel of land in Mississippi that his great-grandfather homesteaded in 1889, about two decades after slavery ended. He grows 16 vegetables, including okra and soybeans, on 320 acres, but he is also active in several organizations that promote local food production for local consumption.“Our work is to bring awareness to the plight of the true family farm,” Mr. Burkett, 62, said over the phone from his farm in Petal, in Southern Mississippi. Mr. Burkett is one of five winners of the James Beard Leadership Awards, which recognize visionaries in the world of food politics and sustainable agriculture.”

Ben Burkett-farmer and activist

Ben Burkett-farmer and activist

Great news. I have learned a great deal from working with the folks at Indian Springs, the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives and truly, from Ben himself (and for the last few years, his daughter Darnella too.) This past Saturday, he accepted congratulations from his peers and shoppers at the New Orleans farmers market where he showed up to sell his products, just as he has every season since 1995 even with the grueling schedule he keeps assisting with initiatives near and far to expand local wealth and health for communities. No one deserved this award more this year.

and congrats to his fellow winners, all of whom also richly deserve the honor:
“… include Karen Washington, the former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition and an urban farmer; Michael Pollan, the writer and journalist who has written extensively about food and food politics; Navina Khanna, a fellow at the Movement Strategy Center who has worked to create awareness and action around food justice issues; and Mark Bittman, an author and food writer for The New York Times.”

Beard Foundation Presents Leadership Awards –

Can your organization become a B Corp?

When food and civic organizations start to think about how they might incorporate, they often stop as soon as they get their company registered in their state which for many, may be enough protection and structure.
Some also immediately apply for a 501 (c) federal tax status, some to specifically to get 501(c) 3 status, knowing it will become more likely to be a foundation-funded organization and to offer tax-deductible donation options. On listserves, there are many stories of farmers markets and organizations being denied a 501 (c) 3 status. My impression is that people think there is a “moratorium” on new 501 (c) 3 awards or that the IRS has redlined farmers markets which, based on the amount that continue to get that status, seems unlikely. I think instead that many organizations expect that the embedded “educational” benefits of markets make 501 (c)3 status likely when really, a much higher rate of proactive educational activities must be offered to achieve it and maintain it! Many other markets have successfully received 501(c) 6 status, (as articulated in the comments section by Oregon market leader Rebecca Landis.)
From the IRS website:
To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates. Organizations described in section 501(c)(3) are commonly referred to as charitable organizations.
The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization’s net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any organization managers agreeing to the transaction. Section 501(c)(3) organizations are restricted in how much political and legislative (lobbying) activities they may conduct. For a detailed discussion, see Political and Lobbying Activities. For more information about lobbying activities by charities, see the article Lobbying Issues; for more information about political activities of charities, see the FY-2002 CPE topic Election Year Issues.

So, I won’t advocate for or against any particular incorporation (especially since I am not equipped to offer legal or financial services) but will just say that all markets should do their due diligence to find the appropriate level of protection and status needed for their situation. However each organization gets there, it’s just important that the officers of the company have some cover from personal liability and that the status chosen is not too time consuming or complicated to manage. And when doing their research, to look at new incorporation methods and added layers of social good designation that may help clarify and safeguard the future. B Corp is one of those designations, but be careful-it can be confusing. The value of the B Corp certification is access to resources and an added level of clarity about the company or organization’s mission in regards to social good.

This is from the B Lab website:

Benefit Corporations and Certified B Corporations are often, and understandably, confused. Both are sometimes called B Corps. They share much in common and have a few important differences.

Certified B Corporation is a certification conferred by the nonprofit B Lab. Benefit corporation is a legal status administered by the state.

Benefit corporations do NOT need to be certified. Certified B Corporations have been certified as having met a high standard of overall social and environmental performance, and as a result have access to a portfolio of services and support from B Lab that benefit corporations do not.

The value of meeting the legal requirement for B Corp certification is that it bakes sustainability into the DNA of your company as it grows, brings in outside capital, or plans succession, ensuring that your mission can better survive new management, new investors, or even new ownership.

The benefits of the B Corp legal requirement:

1. Give legal protection to directors and officers to consider the interests of all stakeholders, not just shareholders, when making decisions

2. Create additional rights for shareholders to hold directors and officers accountable to consider these interests

3. Limit these expanded rights to shareholders exclusively

B corp site

Here is an example of a market organization that has been listed as certified as a B Corp: Down to earth markets

And a story about how the process can be assessed as to the public good offered by that company: students use b impact assessment

The Internal Revenue Service today introduced a new, shorter application form to help small charities apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status more easily.
“This is a common-sense approach that will help reduce lengthy processing delays for small tax-exempt groups and ultimately larger organizations as well,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The change cuts paperwork for these charitable groups and speeds application processing so they can focus on their important work.”
The new Form 1023-EZ, available today on, is three pages long, compared with the standard 26-page Form 1023. Most small organizations, including as many as 70 percent of all applicants, qualify to use the new streamlined form. Most organizations with gross receipts of $50,000 or less and assets of $250,000 or less are eligible.

Instructions for new form

Grocery shopping in 2014: diversified and fragmented, says FMI

Thanks to Wayne Roberts for bringing this report to our attention, which shows that shoppers are moving back to the multiple outlet shopping experience and away from supercenters; 9% of those surveyed do not even identify a primary store where they do their shopping. That may not seem like much, but that number seems to be climbing and is statistically significant for our purposes of encouraging shoppers to add farmers market to that multiple outlet list.
I think there are a few other important points in this study such as that shoppers seek out tandem claims. In other words, if they search for low calories, they look also for low sugar. Those that look for high fiber foods also seek out whole grains.
And here’s an exciting number: 90% of those surveyed said they buy local at least occasionally and that they believe that those goods are better quality and 61% think they offer better taste.
40% of the substantial grocery shopping is now done by men.
The details of how millennials shop is also useful:
•25% of twenty somethings’ meals included items purchased that same day.
•they create their shopping lists right before leaving, which will help those markets that use Facebook, Twitter and email campaigns.

2116 people were surveyed between the ages of 18-74 and supplemented by data from the US Census and the USDA and from 2013/2014 Hartman Group ethnographic research into eating and shopping.

By Maggie Hennessy, 17-Jun-2014
Not only are today’s consumers less likely to rely on a primary store for food shopping, but they’re sharing shopping duties and planning for specific meals rather than stocking up on food, according to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI)’s annual analysis of U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends, done in collaboration with the Hartman Group.
Link to story

High Performers vs. Workaholics

“I’m a recovering workaholic,” admits Jullien Gordon, a nationally recognized speaker and founding partner of New Higher, in a recent LinkedIn post.

Workaholism, he says, looks similar to high performance on the outside — but they’re actually nothing alike.

Gordon has spent the last year doing research and conducting experiments on himself to understand the difference between workaholism and high performance. He found that while they both look like hard work, “the big difference is how the individual feels on the inside about who they are in relationships to their work,” he explains.

A high performer works hard in “healthy sustainable ways and feels happy and inspired,” he says. Meanwhile, a workaholic “works hard in unhealthy unsustainable ways and feels unhappy and burned out.”

The No. 1 goal of a workaholic is to be busy at all times — as they believe that the busier they are (or appear), the more important they must be.

“Workaholics fill any space in time with busy work because they feel insecure doing nothing,” Gordon explains. “The insecurity comes from not knowing their value.”
entire LinkedIn post

Growing the Farm – Feeding Mississippi by Beaverdam Fresh Farms — Kickstarter

When I read quotes like this from a farmer, I know that the community food revolution is in full swing and in good hands:

We hope that our building of this processing facility, moving forward with obtaining a permit, and completing inspections will create a replicable model for others and will increase the number of small pasture rotation farms in the South. We know that this next step is a big one, not only for us, but for the future of sustainable farming in Mississippi and the health of its families.

Community food system farmers are not simply working to revive the old way of business but cooperating and communicating on so many levels with their shoppers, peers and policy makers. Show your support if you can for these Mississippi farmers leading the way in sustainability.

Growing the Farm – Feeding Mississippi by Beaverdam Fresh Farms — Kickstarter.