Employment with Farmers Market Coalition

Two great 40-hour/wk job postings with Farmers Market Coalition are being offered: an EBT Program Associate and an Education Program Associate. The programs for these positions have enormous potential to become pillars of FMC’s national work for many years to come, so please spread the word to as many corners of the community food system to allow them the opportunity to get the best staff possible. I can personally vouch that this organization has an excellent work environment staffed with dedicated and delightful folks.
Link to FMC website

NCAT position available

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is seeking a full-time Midwest Regional Director to direct work in their Des Moines, Iowa, office. The right candidate will serve as a sustainable agriculture or agriculture marketing specialist and will direct program work in their Midwest Regional office.

To see the full position description, qualifications and application process visit: https://www.ncat.org/midwest-regional-director/

Hurry – deadline to apply is October 13th!

NCAT is a private non-profit organization that works to foster and promote sustainable technologies and systems, especially for the benefit of economically disadvantaged individuals and communities.

Southern SAWG still searching for new executive director

The Southern SAWG Board of Directors has initiated a search for excellent candidates for this key position. The Executive Director will be responsible for leading the organization in its work of empowering and inspiring farmers, individuals, and communities throughout the South to create a sustainable agriculture and food system. Southern residence is required for the successful candidate.
The deadline for applications is July 31, 2013.

For a full job description, please visit their website. The position start date is no later than April 1, 2014.

Southern SAWG – Home.

Southern SAWG Searches for new Executive Director

Jim Lukens will be retiring soon as the Southern SAWG Executive Director,
and the Board of Directors is initiating a search for candidates for that position.

Position Announcement
Executive Director
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

http://www.ssawg.org

The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (Southern SAWG) is seeking to hire a new Executive Director. The Executive Director will be responsible for leading the organization in its work of empowering and inspiring farmers, individuals, and communities throughout the South to create a sustainable agriculture and food system. Whereas relocation to Arkansas is not necessary for the successful candidate, southern residence is required.

The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (Southern SAWG) has been one of the lead organizations working for the past 22 years to foster a more sustainable food and agriculture system throughout the Southern region – one that yields dignity and economic viability for farmers and farm workers, and provides safe and secure food for all, produced in harmony with nature. We are engaged in extensive outreach and education over a broad and diverse region, both geographically and demographically. Southern SAWG links more than 150 organizations and many individuals throughout the 13 Southern states of AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, & VA.

Ideal candidates for this position will:

Provide visionary leadership to a 22-year old dynamic and growing organization in the sustainable agriculture movement.
Be capable of effective resource development for and sound fiscal management of diverse income streams
Be an experienced and effective leader within a virtual and dynamic work environment that includes some travel.
Have exceptionally strong relationship-building skills.
Enjoy the complexity and rewards of leading a multi-faceted, regional organization covering a wide diversity of demographics and agro-ecosystems.
Be an effective manager of a dedicated team that is comprised of diverse professional staff and contractors.
Be able to effectively engage and work with the board of directors.
Understand the relationship of local and regional efforts to effect systemic change in the farming and food system, particularly where resources are scarce.
Be an excellent communicator dedicated to transparency and accountability for and within the organization.
Be computer literate, with proficiency using Microsoft Office, Internet and email.
Currently, Southern SAWG has an administrative office in Fayetteville, Arkansas. However, a majority of the staff and contractors operate out of their home offices.

For a full job description, see PDF. SSAWG is committed to the principle of equal opportunity and equal treatment for every current and prospective employee. Substantial efforts are made to seek out potential candidates among women, minority groups, and individuals with disabilities.

To apply: Send a resume, a substantive cover letter highlighting why you would be good for this position and this position would be good for you, three writing samples that demonstrate the ability to write for differing audiences and handle the content with differing levels of technical detail, and contact information for three professional references to Southern SAWG Board President Stephan Walker at stepwalkfarm@live.com. Contact (870) 575-7237 for questions.

Application deadline is July 31, 2013.
Position start date is no later than April 1, 2014.

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Inc. (Southern SAWG) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to promote sustainable agriculture in the Southern United States.

Jobs seem plentiful

Even though this article seems to suggest that corporations are the target for all of these grads, I think we know that many are hoping to work in small-scaled sustainable ag. Now it’s our job to make that a reality with some serious job programs for alternative food systems.

http://usat.ly/RpLTBc

Letter to a fellow food organizer

a colleague asked me to give her my opinion on trends and jobs in the alternative food system retail sector. Here is the beginning of my response:

Okay,
Here’s a few of my cents as requested:

As you know, the food hub conversation has taken a lot of the oxygen in the room (and a lot of the funding) away from direct farmer support and farmers markets and as a result, it feels like we are simply treading water in a lot of instances. Spread too thin. Certainly in the expansion of direct marketing farming or in getting any serious cross-sector analysis, we’re not jumping ahead much of where we were 5 years ago.

It’s not that I’m against food hubs, but some of them sound a lot like city governments’ “one-stop shops” which I am not sure has worked either. And it smacks of “scaling up” which is a suspect phrase to someone like me who has seen how long it takes a market farmer to really be ready to price at his or her comfort level and to innovate products. The Cliff Notes version of the market vendor lifespan is that it takes years of a market organizations time and “expertise” to patiently get a farmer to an economic and social comfort level where they actually tell you that they are about to go bankrupt or get divorced or get ready for a kid to go to college and so thats why their business is changing so you can help it change for the better. And that those folks are RETAIL vendors, with tables and tents and signs designed to help them sell retail, and not necessarily the same ones to approach or to change to wholesale vendors seems to be missed by some wholesale organizers.

Sometimes, it also feel that we are extrapolating the wrong lessons of what has worked to build food retail points of entry. Let me say I’m probably not “up” on all of the good work being done, although I do know and learn from original thinkers like Anthony Flaccavento’s and M. Shuman’s excellent research and analysis work. It’s just that the a lot of the scaling up and institutional buying conversation seems wildly uneven from case to case and the skills are simply not embedded into the host area to keep the thing moving forward once a founder leaves or a project fails.

What is true in the food system is that currently the public health sector rules, so therefore the conversation around low-income and at-risk end users of healthy food is the main thing being funded, which is a glorious turn around for those who always had the plan to take the food system there (meaning to everyone) no matter what anti-localvore writers try to say.<
10 years ago, the talk was all about social cohesion and dynamic Main Streets and 15 years before THAT, it was all about farmers extending seasons and growing sustainably, and it was always about doing it for everyone.

The public health sector is staying put, and learning more and more about how to use our points of entry to get results in true behavior change. That sector has changed farmers markets more than any other stakeholder (and that includes government stakeholders) because there are so many levels of public health intervention that they are willing to try wild ideas which often work and because they measure everything they do. However, I expect that the needle will move again-what will be the next issue that leads food system work- environmental impacts or immigrant issues or racial inequities or food safety or civic planning? Who knows really. Of course, it will depend on the crisis that shows up.

As for careers and jobs, it is my biased opinion that the open-air farmers market continues to rule the hearts (if not the minds) of most of the public while inside the food system, organizers favor the urban farm as the winning hand. Oddly, no one has brought these two together in any meaningful way or even examined the impacts of the two combined or separately beyond simple economic data or numbers of projects, as if quantity of projects really mean anything.

I think you know my obsession is with measuring the economic, social, human and natural capital of markets AND also with finding a way to make markets the entry point for training food organizers on all aspects of food system work. I foresee a national training program with skills trained in the first 6 months which are transferrable to all parts of the food system and beyond. Along those lines, there is already a push for a voluntary market manager accreditation system (which is beginning in places like Michigan) that might be similar in neighboring states so someone would have a leg up regionally if they have taken the training.
Add to that a yearly networking session for market managers and for those in my mythical training program and you may have the beginning of a movement, instead of rising and falling tide of new markets and projects every year.

And after all, the farmers markets remain the best fulcrum for food systems, so what happens there should matter to everyone else.

What also seems true is in the last 2-3 years the terrain has shifted a great deal, away from larger “big tent” orgs partnering on everything to much more nimble entrepreneurial types sharing knowledge on common problems and tactics. Regionality may once again become the strongest card we can use to strengthen our systems across state lines and across single issue campaigns to truly achieve success. Interestingly, this seems to also true in DC, where there is not one national policy shop office that truly represents the entire membership of most food organizers. Collaboration there has been somewhat successful.
But to leave markets for a minute (hate to do it but I will) I also believe that the wholesale food system is ready for a boost. And no, food hubs so far ain’t cutting it, as far as really reshaping buying habits of purchasers and institutions like the farmers markets HAVE been successful in re shaping the consumer’s buying habits- the 2-3 percent that listen, that is. THAT, of course, is another looming issue-98% of the public who have not used alternative food systems much. And even for the 2-3 percent, what is the actual change-one season? Farmers market shoppers become CSA members or vice versa? What about how they feel about the environment or local businesses after they stick to the market?

So research is needed in examining what is actually been done and not just the PROJECTS, but the efforts of stakeholders, the typology of successful farmers, and the efficient host organizations.
I would also say that as CFSC struggles with it’s post-strategic planning transition (speaking as a Board member for a few more months that assures you that that info is not secret but quite transparent and shared within the CFSC community) and Slow Food reexamines it’s work and searches for a new leader and FMC searches for a new leader, it may turn out all of the national organizations turn more to each other and others to collaborate more closely along with racial equity orgs like GFJI and Alliance for Building Capacity and IATP.

They might. So the collaboration points are a good place to look for work. Chapters? Maybe. Community unionism? Maybe. Or simply skill building and shared measurement in all partnerships. That would help. However, as we strengthen the regional orgs and multi-sector orgs more -since I’m sure im not the only one thinking this way- that may be where the jobs end up too.

In any case or in all cases, what seems clear to be missing in many cases is the entrepreneur’s point of view, whether its a farmer, or a baker or the neighboring business that needs that market or even the market or other food retail organization itself that seem to be considered built already and left out of the capacity building money. (I guess many feel we had our money moment, huh?) So maybe we need more innovative financing too, like CSEs or granny accounts or even to attempt the other part of a currency system-loans and massive fundraising in the market community itself, using the wooden token system as a starting point.
After all, its the entrepreneur is who needs to be encouraged. The entrepreneurs are who need to be analyzed. And entrepreneurs will be multiplying as corporations shut down and lay off more and more, and so seems like the most obvious point of expansion for work opportunities.
So to paraphrase Abigail Adams, …remember the entrepreneurs and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.

Hope that helps, Darlene