One of the most common questions I am asked, as soon as the weather gets brisker, is “what does the staff at WCG do all winter-long?” While those who ask may have visions of us curling up for naps and sipping hot cocoa, that couldn’t be farther from the truth (well…maybe sometimes we sip hot cocoa…). In reality, winter is a very busy time for all of us at WCG, staff, board, and volunteers included. Because the growing season is so hectic, and many staff hours are spent in the gardens, the colder months give us a chance to step back, take a deep breath, and ready ourselves for the coming year. Here is a snapshot of we are working on while our gardens are slumbering…
Evaluating…we spend time analyzing how our programs and outreach progressed during the previous year. Did we meet or exceed our goals? If so, how can we further improve our work? If not, where did things go wrong, and how can we fix them for next year. For instance in 2008 our community gardeners were plagued by veggie thieves. As a staff, we have been brainstorming new ways to engage garden neighbors, to give them a sense of ownership and stewardship of the gardens and hopefully be theft deterrents.
Visioning…staff and board invest time to assess our strategic plan, set new goals, and revisit our collective visions for the coming year (and beyond). We had a great board-staff retreat in November that helped us hone our strategy as well as develop a new mission statement that succinctly yet vividly paints the picture of what WCG is all about: empowering people of all ages and incomes to grow and eat healthy, organic, local food.
Planning…we have new youth gardening lesson plans to write, community gardeners to recruit, partnerships to form, garden beds to envision, workshop topics to devise, projects to launch, events to plan, outreach campaigns to design. With these plans in place, we can jump right into our busy gardening and event season feeling prepared and ready to fulfill our mission.
Fundraising…like it or not, nonprofits rely on raising funds to support our programs and day-to-day operations. In this economy, we are trying harder than ever to be creative and strategic in our fundraising, and strive to ensure that our donors recognize that they are vital partners in the work of Wasatch Community Gardens.
Consulting…did you know that WCG helps other groups and social service agencies start their own community gardens? Demand for this service has been through the roof, and during these months we are actively involved helping groups from Ogden to Taylorsville plan for and implement community gardens in their urban neighborhoods to be planted in the spring.
Gardening! If you happen to drive by the Tomato Garden (800 S 600 E) you will see a large hoop house built by volunteers and WCG staff. Hidden from sight but starting to germinate are lettuce, radish, arugula, beet, carrot, and other seeds, waiting to sprout and be tended to by our youth gardeners this winter and early spring.
So…while we may wish that we were napping, we are actually using these dark cold days to prepare for the warm, abundant months ahead.
Claire, executive director