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Winning, in Any Arena, Requires Thoughtful Planning

March 2022

Tristan Wallack, our Senior Director of Programming and Operations, shares his insight into some of the planning that makes America’s Grow-a-Row successful.

I am a longtime NFL fan, and even when my team is not playing or not in the Super Bowl (one day, Cleveland!), I still enjoy it. I have tried being a fan of other sports, but I could never fully commit. I think I have always appreciated football because it is truly such a team sport. And that goes well beyond the players and what happens on the field. Behind the scenes, coaches and front office staff are constantly working to try to set up their teams for success.

The talent level across the NFL is so incredibly high that what really differentiates those who succeed and those who lose is organization and preparation – in other words, planning. Yes, injuries are a factor, but the really good teams find a way to overcome that when they are prepared. So why am I talking so much about football? To make the point that planning is everything if you want to be successful. And this applies in all areas of life, not just football or sports. 

Just like in sports, companies and organizations are not created equal. Some are better than others.  Success does not happen by chance. This year America’s Grow-a-Row (AGAR) is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The fact that we continue to grow and impact more people year after year is not coincidence. There is a lot of thought, planning, and hard work that has made the organization sustainable and, more importantly, successful. 

This time of year, many people wonder what happens at AGAR since we are a farm operation. Well, I can tell you a lot is happening, and much of it is related to planning. It begins with detailed preparation by our farm team about how the land will be used in the upcoming season. We decide not only what crops will be planted and how much but where they should be planted. This is because we believe in sustainable farming, which includes crop rotation so we don’t wear down the nutrients in the soil. The farm team is also extremely busy with the maintenance of all our equipment. We have seven commercial tractors and numerous equipment attachments that help us plant, grow, and harvest the produce. This equipment requires maintenance and tune-ups to keep it working properly, as do our other vehicles. And some members of our farm team are out in the fields right now – in the 24-degree windy winter weather as I write this – pruning our apple and peach trees to make sure they are ready for the spring blossoms.

On the programming side we have various activities happening now, including presenting education sessions across the state. We also continue our year-round gleaning, or produce rescue, from local supermarkets. At the same time we are busy planning the logistics of our Free Farm Market and Grow-a-Row Kids Farms Days programs for the year. Finally, our Volunteer Specialist is already actively booking large groups for the spring, summer, and fall. 

Our development team continues their rigorous work with grant applications and reporting. They are also actively working with various corporate partners regarding sponsorship opportunities for our programs and events for the year. And a lot of time and energy is invested in communications planning, including communication through various social media platforms and press releases – and this newsletter!

When financial support comes in, we cannot manage it without the great work of our finance team. At this time of year, they are very busy with our annual audit. And beyond the management of our revenue and expenditures throughout the year, they also play an integral part in our annual budget planning process.

As you can see, there is a lot going on at AGAR. And meticulous planning is involved in each area. The time invested now will pay huge dividends during the summer and fall as we look to impact 100,000 people through our programs. At AGAR, that will be our big “win.” ?

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