Partnerships Equal Success
Tristan Wallack, our Senior Director of Programming and Operations, writes about some of the partnerships that enable America’s Grow-a-Row to be successful in fulfilling our mission.
How is it possible that we are already in June? I would not believe it except for the fact that the farm has come to life with nonstop activity. The tractors and the equipment they pull are constantly on the move zigzagging across the land. And the ground has been planted with seed and seedlings.
As we embark on our most aggressive year yet in terms of distribution and people impacted – 2.5 million pounds of fresh produce and 100,000 people – our plans are coming into focus. In the winter newsletter, I highlighted the internal collaboration and teamwork that is needed to be successful. As important as that is, it is only half the equation in achieving our goals. The other half is collaboration with our partners.
Partnerships come in many forms. This year our goal is to fully resume our Grow-a-Row Kids Farm Days and bring 1,000 children from underserved areas to our farm. We have already filled our calendar by coordinating with 10 organizations from across several New Jersey counties. For our gleaning program, we have both retail supermarkets and local orchards that allow our volunteers to come in and rescue fresh produce in season and year-round. We have numerous partnerships with financial supporters including individuals, corporations, and foundations that enable us to carry out our programs. The produce that we grow and distribute from our farm travels to approximately 40 hunger relief organizations each year throughout New Jersey, New York City, Pennsylvania, and as many as 12 other states. Some of these partners are smaller food pantries, soup kitchens, and community-based agencies, while others are very large Feeding America food banks that distribute across large geographic areas and populations.
The organizations and businesses we partner with play very important roles in our education, gleaning, and distribution programs. However, none of programs would be possible without the support of another key partner, our volunteers. We have teen volunteers who assist us as counselors during our Kids Farm Days. We have core volunteers who help harvest on a continuous basis for our Free Farm Market program. We have dedicated volunteers who deliver produce to some of the Free Farm Market locations. We also have volunteers who drive to retail stores on a routine basis to rescue produce and get it to local hunger relief organizations. And that does not include the thousands of other volunteers who go into the fields to harvest all season long.
The old adage says that you are only as strong as your weakest link. Coordination, collaboration, and teamwork with internal and external stakeholders are critical to success. And our strong partnerships across the board will ultimately translate into America’s Grow-a-Row’s most impactful year yet!