After our meeting on January 18, 2011 at 61 Local, the Planning Committee distilled the questions that were posed by the farmers and agronomists in the Work Group. In order to get clear understanding of the directions that we should take, we devised a survey to narrow our course of action. Below, please find the Summary of the Survey.
We closed the Survey on March 11, 2011. We got 21 responses. Interestingly, only 11 respondents participated in our first focus group (as we distributed the survey to a wider group than our original focus group, e.g. City Farming Meetup). Click here for an 8 page Summary of Responses.
(1) Workshop Topics represent areas of knowledge that urban farmers need but lack resources to share with peers. Accordingly, outside experts may be required to teach these business skills.
We have drawn this conclusion comparing respondents who said “NO” when asked if they could GIVE a training versus respondents who said “YES” when asked if they wanted to RECEIVE a training.
The STRONGEST NEED for workshops is indicated in the responses with highest percentage of NO (I can’t give) coupled with the highest percentage of YES (I’d like to receive):
- Urban Farm Business Planning 71% NO GIVE vs. 81% YES RECEIVE
- Urban Farm Financing Options, 86% NO GIVE vs. 78% YES RECEIVE
- Accessing, Leasing and Farming Land or Rooftops 81% NO GIVE vs. 76% YES RECEIVE
The survey results confirmed the impulse behind the Work Group meeting — Farmers need targeted assistance with business planning, accessing capital and accessing land.
(2) Urban Farm Association (UFA) - 62% of respondents said they would join a Work Group to develop and Urban Farm Association and 38% said Maybe with none saying No. That’s a pretty strong indicator that we should proceed with this planning process.
(3) Urban Farm Association WEBSITE - All agreed that urban farmers need a central information site. The most important areas to develop web-based tools are as follows:
- Peer-to-Peer Knowledge Bank – Record Q and A for Future Reference = 81% in favor;
- Resource Library – Categorized Documents & Sites for Urban Farms (Like Enterprise Budgets, etc.) = 95% in favor
- Urban LandLink – Listing Shares, Rentals, Sales & Opportunities= 81% in favor; and
- Funding Opportunities – Tracking Grants and Investment Possibilities = 86% in favor
(4) Collaborative Fundraising: Of course, we all want services but we are not sure whether and how we are willing to pay!
However, 33% said Yes and 62% said Maybe (with only 1 definite No) to the question: Are you (or your organization) willing to provide staff or volunteers to help achieve some of the work described above?
Grants: When we asked if people were willing to collaborate on grants: 33% said Yes and 48% said Maybe. That’s still a strong 81% majority in the generally positive direction with one third ready to roll up their sleeves and help today. A full 76% said “Yes” to providing Letters of Support with 19% saying Maybe. Oddly, 81% said they were NOT willing to act as Fiscal Sponsor for grant applications, 0% said Yes and 19% said maybe. Looks like we may have to form our own NonProfit for a UFA!!!
(a) Collaborations – Many entities are trying to find a way to help urban farms seeking a way to graft their own programs onto the future of urban farming. We should share the results of our work with a clear understanding of how others will provide funding and programmatic support to NYC farmers and NYC farm organizations in our grassroots efforts to create our own local structure with resources to support this growing sector.
(b) Upcoming Workshops – Should we hold one workshop to draw more participation into the UFA and then fundraise for the remaining Workshops in the series? How should proceed? Should we approach Farm School to take this on with their already developing curriculum?
(c) Website – Who should develop this website? Should it be part of an existing organization or stand alone? What grants would help develop this site?
(d) UFA Work Group – If we call another meeting of those interested in developing the UFA, who should be invited? Only those who answered the survey? The survey respondents and the original group? What should our agenda be?
(e) Fundraising – How should we proceed? Should this be a new organization or should we pursue this as a program under an existing organization? Should each one of us elect to explore a different area for fundraising: (i) workshop development and production; (ii) website development and production; and (iii) UFA development and organization.
Please leave a comment to this posting if you have any ideas about next steps. Thanks!