What exactly is Central Rivers Farmshed? When I first stumbled upon the group, this question plagued me for months before I finally understood its purpose. Through discussions with family and friends, we’ve come to realize that this confusion is felt elsewhere as well.
As of now, the website (farmshed.org) states, “Central Rivers Farmshed is a 501c3 nonprofit organization representing all aspects of the food system whose members are committed to making Central Wisconsin a renowned, local food community.”
But, how does a group represent all aspects of the food system? What does Farmshed actually do?
Simply put, Farmshed is a connecting force. Farmshed serves the needs of local farmers and community members (and the various groups and institutions they belong to) by facilitating programs, workshops, fairs, publications, and meetings. Through these activities, Farmshed strengthens the local food economy, builds an understanding of the benefits of local food, and promotes community sustainability and resilience.
Please visit our website or stop by The Greenhouse Project in downtown Stevens Point to learn about how you can get involved, or just to chat. Building a vibrant, local food community doesn’t have to be difficult, nor is it an alienating concept… we just need to get together, have fun, and eat good food!
Stating Farmshed’s role in this blatant way will build understanding and trust with the brand. Trust will make community members feel more secure in donating, becoming a member, or even attending an event – ultimately, boosting soft and hard ROI.
Making sure Farmshed always includes this statement in content will provide consistency and ensure that the purpose of the brand is never overlooked. New audiences will be made aware from the onset of what it is Farmshed does and how they can be involved.
Sharing a relaxed statement about how to get involved will make the brand seem more approachable. In the end, Farmshed is all about building community, but let’s not make that task seem intimidating, daunting or invasive.
We are generating a content campaign to raise awareness about what and who Farmshed really is…
Content marketing strategy:
Due to limited staffing, board member involvement, participation from volunteers, and graphic design/social media/PR/marketing interns are needed for this strategy to succeed.
Existing content and channels (keep, but with tweaks):
1) Quarterly E-newsletter: seek new list-serves for upcoming summer newsletter, always explain what Farmshed is and does.
2) Facebook- daily post – PDFs, images, text
- Member testimonials
- Upcoming events
- Related news stories
- Featured farmers/businesses
- Gardening tips
- Photos of what’s happening around The Greenhouse Project
3) Bi-weekly staff emails, from Executive Director, Program Coordinator, or intern
- Updates about how things are going
- Sharing ways to involve new people (friends, family, co-workers)
- Keep it interactive – promote feedback and idea sharing
4) Continue to keep new website updated, linked to Facebook page
Additional content avenues:
1) ASAP: YouTube account: 2-4 minute videos – stories and interviews
- Talk with farmers, new members, volunteers, etc. about how Farmshed has impacted them
- Create and then revisit a video featuring a board member that explains what Farmshed is and examples of activities
2) ASAP: Contact Portage County Gazette, Stevens Point Journal, and The Pointer and establish periodic online news stories
3) By June 2014: Create a referral program: referring a friend, who then becomes a member, gets you perks (free workshop, demos, etc)
4) By May 2014: graphic designer volunteer creates simple, basic posters and brochures (print) about Farmshed for dissemination throughout Central Wisconsin
5) July 2014: Set up a weekly show with 90FM in Stevens Point (for example, Friday mornings at 10). Bring in activists, local food people, farmers, business owners, restaurants, board members, etc, to interview and discuss Farmshed, events, news/current events. Inform members through email.
Mini style guide and editing guidelines:
Due to the limited number of staff, all content must first go through the executive director, who gives final approval. Please consult the graphics repository for colors, images, and fonts to keep content consistent with existing face of the Farmshed brand. In addition, generate content with the following editorial guidelines in mind:
– get sustainable farming lingo correct
– be culturally sensitive
– check links
– use enthusiastic, informal tone
– cite images and facts
– always encourage people to learn more (refer to website/Facebook if helpful)
– use Farmshed’s logo when appropriate
– keep Farmshed’s mission in mind, always
– make sure event promotion always includes basic information about what Farmshed is – much of this information reaches new audiences who are unaware of basic mission
– remember, Farmshed is not a subculture- it needs to be everyone’s culture! Inclusivity is the name of the game…
– use inappropriate/vulgar language
– handle personal matters on organizational accounts- represent Farmshed, not your personal life
– offer or engage with political opinions, just use facts…
– get off topic. Remember, the goal is to educate people about what Farmshed is
– assume people know.. We’re trying to reach new members who might not know what Farmshed is.
Farmshed’s content needs to be more than visually appealing- it needs to explain, in the simplest terms possible, what Farmshed is and why the organization is needed. Doing so, recurrently as the organization grows and develops, will ensure that new audiences, along with those already involved, are constantly reminded of the purpose and necessary existence of this nonprofit.
(Note: The author is in no way affiliated with Central Rivers Farmshed at this time. The organization was used as an example.)