LEADERSHIP MONTGOMERY - Torchbearers Class "connecting"
TORCHBEARER CLASS VIII PROJECT TEAM FOUR
E.A.T. SOUTH DOWNTOWN FARM
TITLE OF THE PROJECT: E.A.T. South Project
NAME OF CHAIR PERSON: Brian Matney
TEAM MEMBERS: Carlton Avery; Chandalyn Chrzanowski; Lindsey Baker; Aaron Ganey; Tamara Hartley; James Jackson; Cindy Sawyer; Kenny Ward, Jr.; Brian Matney
DATE(S) OF IMPLEMENTATION: From: 5/1/16 to 10/1/16
DURATION OF THE PROJECT: 5 months
PROJECT LOCATION: E.A.T. South Office; E.A.T. South Downtown Farm
FINAL PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The project saw several changes since its beginning. The Executive Director who submitted the initial proposal for the project, Liz Laroche, left E.A.T. South in May of 2016. Our team met with Mrs. Laroche at the end of her tenure and were introduced the new Executive Director, Sara Byard soon after we returned from the Retreat after being assigned our project. In mid-June, we were informed that Mrs. Byard was resigning, and met with Interim Executive Director, Beth Anne Dunagan, to once again outline our project.
In our initial meetings with Mrs. Laroche and Mrs. Byard, it was clear that E.A.T. South wanted to become known as a venue space to help generate more income to help them become self-sustaining (to have the ability to pay all expenses with revenues generated by being a venue space). Mrs. Laroche and Mrs. Byard also asked that we present them with any and all ideas our team had to help them improve their standing in the community and to become a self-sustaining organization. Additionally, they both emphasized the need to address a problem with water drainage around the raised garden beds at the Downtown Farm location.
After the departure of Mrs. Byard, our team met with the Interim Executive Director, Beth Anne Dunagan and brought many different ideas to the table. E.A.T. South lost 3 AmeriCorps VISTA workers shortly after Ms. Dunagan became the Interim Executive Director. Additionally, the Farmer who had been with the Organization for several years left and was replaced with a new Farmer during the summer. With the high degree of turnover in the Organization, leaving 2 remaining employees the emphasis on becoming a venue space was less important to the new Ms. Dunagan. After our meeting with Ms. Dunagan, it was clear that time consuming aspects of our project were not a high priority for the remaining E.A.T. South staff members. Our project turned into somewhat of an advisory role, which included the following five items:
1) Venue rental agreement – Our team assessed the Organization’s current venue rental agreement and provided recommendations around their fee structure (both in dollar amount and duration of rental) to be more in line with that of other, comparable local facilities. The Organization’s existing rental agreement included wording which only asked for “suggested donations” for rental of the facility. As the lessee would be receiving services with a value, these donations would not be tax deductible for the lessee, and therefore we recommended setting a fixed rental rate schedule. The rental rate would depend on the day of the week and the length of the rental. Our recommendations ranged from $375 for a weeknight rental to $1,000 for a full day Saturday or Sunday rental (for an event like a wedding).
2) Drainage solution – Our team assisted E.A.T. South to determine potential solutions for the drainage issue at the Downtown Farm location. Our team organized meetings between an engineer with Goodwyn | Mills | Caywood and the E.A.T. South Director. The engineer provided a drainage plan to E.A.T. South, which our team began to work on at our E.A.T. South work day on October 1, 2016. At this time, it was determined that the initial drainage plan would not work due to hard compacted soil below a geo-mat. The geo-mat was placed below all of E.A.T. South’s raised garden beds as the soil beneath the geo-mat is contaminated with arsenic. Therefore, no moisture seeps from above the geo-mat to the dirt below, resulting in the soil being extremely hard. E.A.T. South is currently exploring more options with the City of Montgomery.
4) Marketing Assessment – Develop a series of questions to assess current marketing efforts. The end goal of this assessment is to increase brand awareness by creating and maintaining a consistent message. Through the answers; provided by board members, staff, vendors, and friends; E.A.T South can evaluate the gaps and create a more robust marketing strategy. This exercise allows E.A.T South to celebrate the strengths and focus on the weaknesses.
5) “Fundraisers @ the Farm” – This is an idea brought to E.A.T. South by our team to incentivize local non-profits to hold fundraisers at the Farm (and thus increase E.A.T. South’s recognition in the community). Our team created an outline for the program and drafted a contract addendum to their rental agreement in which E.A.T. South could lower the cost of the venue rental (to $0 if necessary) as long as the renter follows co-branding requirements for the event (using E.A.T. South’s logo).
MEDIA OUTLETS CONTACTED: None
WHO WAS SERVED AND HOW MANY PEOPLE BENEFITED? E.A.T. South and those benefited by their mission, including school age children in their school garden programs and those benefited by their community gardens.
OTHER AGENCIES AND GROUPS WHO WERE INVOLVED: Goodwyn | Mills | Cawood
VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF THE PROJECT:
WILL THIS BE AN ONGOING PROJECT OR WILL IT BE A ONE-TIME PROJECT? Some aspects are one-time (drainage project, work done on rental agreement, etc.), while others could be on-going if E.A.T. South chooses to implement any of our recommendations.
IF IT WILL BE ON-GOING, WHO WILL CARRY THE PROJECT FORWARD? E.A.T. South employees
HOW MANY VOLUNTEER HOURS WERE DEVOTED TO THIS PROJECT? (Multiply the total number of volunteers by the total number of hours worked, start to finish.) Approximately 175 hours.