Alert! Alert! Farmshed Needs a Community Manager!

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Central Rivers Farmshed is a small nonprofit located in the heart of Stevens Point and serving the greater Central Wisconsin area.  The organization’s mission is “to expand the connection between local residents and their food by providing opportunities for participation, education, cooperation, and action to support a local food economy in Central Wisconsin.” Currently, a whopping 1.5 staff members work frantically to satisfy the various facets of the mission.  

The word “community” appears on the Central Rivers Farmshed homepage ten times. Yowza! With a claim this big to the word, the farm-friendly local food promoting organization must have an extraordinary community engagement strategy and a robust thriving membership, right? There must be someone behind the scenes keeping tabs on that community and making sure the inner-workings of the organizational brand are in concert with the internal and external populous, right? Not quite. There’s room for improvement.  Someone needs to tell them that Community Managers, unlike local apples, don’t grow on trees!

A Community Manager would be an ideal addition to the Farmshed team, assisting to better tackle all of the various projects and programs that operate simultaneously within the organization.  Farmshed is the ‘connector’ within the local food system, serving as a network of people, businesses, organizations, and productive lands that create a local food economy.  A Community Manager to Farmshed would be like Farmshed is to the Central Wisconsin food system: a mediating force and communication resource.  Farmshed seeks to listen to the needs of food consumers and food growers, with everyone in between, in order to mold productive, satisfying relationships that benefit all involved.  In the end, Farmshed is promoting the local food system brand, but they need someone to help them promote their own brand as well.

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It just makes sense that an organization of this connecting caliber should have a person on staff whose role is to manage Farmshed’s community, both internally and externally.  Although social media avenues might not prove most useful in engaging farmers who spend most of their days in the field and rarely have time to check their email, engaging with the social media community would still offer its perks. Especially with the presence of populations in the community like that of UWSP, creating a boisterous and comprehensive community management plan would help to garner support from previously untapped places.  The organization already has a Facebook page, but let’s face it, sometimes another medium might prove more useful for this delicate art project. 

Farmshed’s Community Manager would work hand in hand with the Executive Director and Program Coordinator to keep connected with current membership and find innovative ways to reach out to even more people.  The CM would ensure that the website, Facebook page, and much needed other social media accounts were providing current, receptive, and active voices to encourage engagement.  The Community Manager would also seek to connect all the internal spokes of the organization, from the Greenhouse Project to the Local Food Fair and everything in between.  Keeping all board and committee members up to speed on the news and latest contacts would provide internal connectivity and strengthen relationships, while also emanating good structure to membership.  Farmshed’s brand, as an image, needs to be cohesive and strong to foster buy-in from the outside community at large.

Keeping the internal population at Farmshed in tune with the outside community (and vice versa) through continuous participation and interaction is what keeps Farmshed running. Enlisting a Community Manager would guarantee this cycle.

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7 Comments

  1. Hey Madelin, maybe you should be the community manager 🙂 I think you have great points for Farm Shed. I love the farmers market and farm to fork and all these great concepts involving exactly Farm Sheds mission, and yet I had never even heard of them until I met you in class last semester. Farm Shed would benefit from someone constantly bringing in the “recruits”. Portage County has a community that values this type of living as well, and would support such a great program as Farm Shed, but they just haven’t put out the resources yet to get the attention it needs. I think the community manager could also help in the management of the volunteers. If there are 1.5 real worker’s for Farm Shed there are likely many volunteers that a community manager would be a great resource for building relationships with them.

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  2. Madelin – Your post drew me in right away and I couldn’t stop reading! Great job! I especially love this part, “The word “community” appears on the Central Rivers Farmshed homepage ten times. Yowza! With a claim this big to the word, the farm-friendly local food promoting organization must have an extraordinary community engagement strategy and a robust thriving membership, right? There must be someone behind the scenes keeping tabs on that community and making sure the inner-workings of the organizational brand are in concert with the internal and external populous, right? Not quite. There’s room for improvement. Someone needs to tell them that Community Managers, unlike local apples, don’t grow on trees!” That portion of your blog post is absolutely awesome! Your description of Farmshed and their website is a definite job well done.
    As others have stated, I think you would be the perfect person for the community manager position at Farmshed. Who currently manages their Facebook, emails, etc.? Are there multiple people doing those things? Do they put the tasks onto one person’s shoulders? I would think they would need to limit those task to one person. If too many people are involved, there could be conflicts among feedback.

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    1. Thanks for the comments! 🙂 As far as I know, the Executive Director manages the Facebook page and then emails come from both her and the other half-time programming person. I agree though, that for the sake of consistency, one person should be in charge of Facebook/emails/other social media. At this point, however, they’re understaffed because of inadequate funding.

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  3. I hadn’t heard about this organization until Madelin presented on it in a class we had together last semester. It sounds like a very interesting group with a worthwhile mission that just needs a little support getting their message out to the community. Perhaps you are just the person to be the face and voice of Farmshed, Madelin!

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    1. I agree with Zina Madeline. This organization needs your assistance. Based on your post, you grasp the importance of having the “right” Community Manager. This organization can be used as ROI argument and buy in. The Hard ROI, as Community Mgr. you could increase visibility of certain products, services and fund raisers or membership drives. Soft ROI, by increasing net revenues for these vents and activities you are also increasing visibility and connectivity with brand evangelist.

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  4. You are absolutely right with all of your comments. I think that any place that states in its mission or vision that they are focused on the community needs to have a person on their staff whose sole purpose is to connect the brand to the community. To be honest, as a health and wellness major, I know of the Farmshed, but do many people just out in the community? I think you’re right that a community manager could change that.

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