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.
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.