Join Our Work Supporting Montana’s Farmers

Position Announcement: Beginning Farmer & Rancher Program Coordinator

Reports to: Program Director

Applications Due: July 24, 2016 at 11:59pm MST, or until filled

Anticipated Start Date: September 1, 2016

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Description

The Community Food & Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) is seeking a Program Coordinator to manage our Beginning Farmer & Rancher Program. The position provides support to the Program Director and other staff, with duties including program planning, administration, evaluation, communication, outreach, grantwriting, and others as needed.

Our BFR program has grown substantially in recent years. For more information on our current areas of work, visit our website. These program areas are overseen by CFAC’s Program Director and the Program Director will continue to be the primary staff managing lending, grants, and technical assistance. The BFR Program Coordinator will be responsible for a cohesive set of educational programs and will be the primary staff managing Farm Link Montana, Planning for On-Farm Success, Field Days, and Workshops, and will provide support as needed in the other three program areas. Our work is focused in Western Montana but includes statewide elements. The Coordinator will have the opportunity to collaboratively evaluate needs in the food system and guide future work and priorities.

About the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition

CFAC was started in 2004 in response to a community food assessment that drew together stakeholders from across the Missoula area to identify the greatest needs for enhancing our local food system. CFAC takes a systemic approach from farm to fork; our programs range from farmland conservation to farmer support to food access. For more on our mission and vision, see our website. As a small organization with a holistic mission, staff contribute to projects across the organization, regardless of their job titles.

Responsibilities include:

  • Responsible for program planning, management, and evaluation for a cohesive set of educational programs, including Farm Link Montana, Planning for On-Farm Success, Field Days, Workshops, and Resource Development, in collaboration with the Program Director, to include:
    • Event planning and management, from informal meetings to on-farm events to classroom-based workshops
    • Website development and management
    • Communication with participants and the public (promotional, informational, etc.)
    • Outreach to partners, including program coordination, support services, etc.
    • Promotion of the BFR program, including communications and outreach through personal contacts, earned media, paid media, monthly newsletters, and social media
    • Evaluation of the BFR program, including written evaluations at events, online surveys, compilation, review, and integration into future plans
  • Recruit and manage interns and volunteers
  • Participate in writing grants to maintain and expand the program
  • Manage grants, including program and financial reporting
  • Provide support to other program areas, as needed
  • Represent CFAC in public settings
  • Staff CFAC’s BFR committee, including scheduling, attending meetings, and taking minutes; attend CFAC Board meetings
  • Report to the Program Director regularly, while maintaining self-direction
  • Includes working some nights and weekends and opportunities for travel throughout the state and nationally

Qualifications

  • Related college degree, graduate degree preferred
  • In-depth experience with program planning, management, evaluation, and promotion
  • Experience with grassroots organizing, communications, and outreach
  • Experience in adult education and teaching to diverse learning styles preferred
  • Experience working in agriculture and/or with farmers
  • Experience in business development preferred, including assisting with marketing, financial management, business/strategic planning, legal issues, etc.
  • Strong desire to work with farmers in rural areas and a commitment to CFAC’s vision for a strong local food system across our state
  • Excellent customer service, communication, public speaking, writing, and research skills
  • Prompt communications and follow-through
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Ability to work independently with self-direction as well as part of a team
  • Solid analytical and creative problem solving skills
  • Ability to work independently, take initiative, and meet deadlines
  • Ability to relate cooperatively and constructively with a diversity of stakeholders
  • Solid computer skills, including Office, Google Drive, Dropbox and social media; fluency with design programs and website maintenance a plus
  • Grantwriting experience and experience working with grant-funded programs
  • Valid driver’s license and access to reliable private transportation
  • Must be able to lift 30 pounds

Salary: This is a full-time, year-round, grant-funded position. The position is based in Missoula, but we may be open to remote employment in Western Montana (93 corridor). Depending on experience, the Program Coordinator will earn $28,000-$35,000, plus a generous benefits package that includes paid vacation (starting at 3 weeks annually after the probationary period), sick days, holidays, and health insurance.

To Apply: Send a resume and cover letter to Annie Heuscher at annie@farmlinkmontana.org (note: we are having some minor email issues so if you can’t get through to me at the email address above, please try me at annie.heuscher@gmail.com). Additional supporting documents and references may be requested as the interview process continues. Questions may also be sent to this email address or you can call Annie at 406-830-8218. The deadline for applications is July 24, 2016 at 11:59pm MST; however, the position will remain open until filled.

New Crowdfunding Platform Comes to Farmers and Ranchers in Western Montana

Across the country and in Montana, one of the biggest challenges facing new, small farms is financing. Starting farming is a lean, slow process with small gains each year in exchange for providing great food for your community. But farmers still need capital to purchase seeds, equipment and more.

CFACKivaWith help from CFAC, Montana’s farmers and ranchers will now have access to a new type of funding: 0% interest, crowdfunded Kiva loans. Unlike sites like Kickstarter, which allow people to make donations to businesses and sometimes receive rewards for those donations, all of the money lent through Kiva is expected to be repaid 100%. Loans can be up to $10,000 and lenders can loan as little as $25. Farm borrowers may also have access to a six-month grace period before beginning loan repayment.

Kiva is perhaps best known for international microlending, with 2.1 million borrowers and 1.5 million lenders spread across 83 countries. Kiva loans have a 97.1% repayment rate, based on a unique type of loan review that Kiva calls “social underwriting.” Rather than being reviewed solely on the numbers, loans are evaluated based on the business plan and the character of the borrower.

This social underwriting happens in three stages. First, borrowers can be endorsed by “trustees,” people or organizations who evaluate the business and the borrower’s character. The Community Food and Agriculture Coalition has recently been approved as a Kiva trustee and will be able to endorse loans for their members. After CFAC and Kiva have approved the loan, the borrower goes through a private fundraising period when they have 15 days to get 5-40 (depending on loan size) of their friends, family, and customers to loan them at least $25, demonstrating that their contacts trust them and their business. Finally, the loan is opened for the public fundraising period and each lender reviews the business and can evaluate the borrower’s likelihood to repay before making a loan.

“We know that many of the farmers we work with have a hard time financing their business – especially during the early start-up stages,” says Annie Heuscher, program director for CFAC. “These loans won’t buy the farm, but a lot of times, farms are shut down because of costs that aren’t overwhelmingly huge – just poorly timed. By providing low-cost financing, we believe these Kiva loans will help our region’s farms and ranches expand and grow and stay steady through the inevitable storms.”

CFAC will be able to endorse five borrowers at a time and is considering having a launch event this fall to promote Kiva and the first five borrowers. For more information on Kiva funding and on being endorsed by CFAC, visit http://missoulacfac.org/kiva-zip.html or contact Annie Heuscher at annie@missoulacfac.org.

More Awards for Double SNAP Dollars!

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As temperatures warm, the sun shines, and the farmers’ market season gets into full swing, Missoula is once again awash in fresh, local produce. And along with it, even more Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants will be able to participate in Double SNAP Dollars thanks to generous awards from the USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) program, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, and United Way of Missoula County.

On June 8, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $16.8 million in FINI funding for grant projects that help low-income consumers participating in SNAP purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables through cash incentives, increasing access to fresh, healthy food while increasing markets for local farmers. We are happy to announce that Double SNAP Dollars was one of these programs! You can read more about the FINI program here: http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/fini-awards-2016/

In addition, we are honored to have local support for Double SNAP Dollars from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and the United Way of Missoula County; both foundations recognize the importance of health in improving the quality of people’s lives and building a better community for all. Thanks to their generous donations and USDA FINI funding, Double SNAP Dollars is prepared to expand, providing opportunities for more families to eat better on a budget by providing a one-for-one match when SNAP benefits are used to buy local fruits and vegetables at participating retail locations. With its focus on local food, the program not only helps SNAP shoppers  buy more healthy food, it helps our local growers gain new customers and keeps more food dollars in our local economy.

This program was first piloted last year in collaboration with the North Missoula Community Development Corporation and Missoula Community Food Cooperative, Clark Fork Market, Missoula Farmers’ Market, and Western Montana Growers’ Cooperative. During the pilot year, over $20,000 worth of SNAP benefits were matched for over 300 families at these four locations. CFAC is excited to continue coordinating this collaborative program and serve more SNAP participants, local growers, and local businesses!

The following locations offer Double SNAP Dollars in Missoula:

  • Clark Fork Market, located under the Higgins Bridge, in the Riverside Parking Lot, just east of Caras Park in downtown Missoula: Every Saturday from 8am – 1pm (May 7 – Oct 29)
  • Missoula Farmers’ Market, located at Circle Square, North Higgins Avenue: Every Saturday from 8am – 12:30pm (May 7 – Oct 29); Every Tuesday 5:30pm – 7pm (July 7 – Sept 22)
  • Missoula Community Food Cooperative, located at 1500 Burns Street: Open 7 days a week, all year. M-F 10am-8pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5:30pm
  • Western Montana Growers Cooperative Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA), delivers local produce boxes to the Bitterroot, Missoula, and Mission valleys, Helena and Butte, May – November

Double SNAP Dollars are available at more locations throughout Montana too!

Columbia Falls Community Market

Operates Thursdays, 5pm – 7:30pm, starting May 19, 2016
Located at “The Locals’ Market”, 830 1st Ave W
http://www.cfcommunitymarket.com/

Polson Farmers’ Market

Operates Fridays, 9am – 1pm, starting May 6, 2016
Located  at 3rd Avenue W, in front of the Cove Deli
http://polsonfarmersmarket.com/

Whitefish Farmers’ Market

Operates Tuesdays, 5pm – 7:30pm, starting May 24, 2016
Located at the North end of Central Avenue
http://www.whitefishfarmersmarket.org/

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Farmer Field Days Coming Soon!

No one knows more about farming than farmers themselves.  That’s why the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition is hosting a series of workshops starting Wednesday, May 25th to help farmers share their expertise.

Photo by Laurie Childs

Photo by Laurie Childs

Field days are free, on-farm, farmer-led events.  The workshops are geared towards people who are just at the beginning of their farm exploration – interns and pre-start-up farmers – but are open to beginning and established farmers of all ages and backgrounds.

The first field day will be at Ploughshare Farm, an 18-acre diversified vegetable and livestock operation in Moiese. Owners Nicole and Cale sell their produce at the Missoula and Polson Farmers’ Markets and through the Western Montana Growers’ Co-op and via that experience, they have gained a great depth of knowledge over the past eight years about how to successfully grow for a farmers’ market. Nicole will discuss crop and harvest planning and will host an interactive demonstration on setting up an effective farmers’ market booth.

Four additional field days will be held throughout the summer, with topics covering starting up an organic orchard and vineyard, producing vegetable seeds, growing weed-free onions, and managing resources on a diverse livestock operation.

For more info on this and other field days, visit http://missoulacfac.org/2016-field-days.html.

Zero Percent Interest Loans for Farmers

We are excited to announce that the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition is now a Kiva Zip trustee! This means that we provide endorsements to food and farm businesses in Montana who are seeking a loan on Kiva Zip’s platform.

To learn more about borrowing or lending, visit http://missoulacfac.org/kiva-zip.html

Note: If we get enough interest over the summer (which we know is a tough time of year!), we may hold a Pitchfest in September to help launch the first handful of Kiva Zip loans! If you’re interested, please email Annie at annie@missoulacfac.org ASAP.

Kiva Zip loans are:

  • Social Impact Investments, meaning participating businesses have a positive impact on their communities
  • Crowdfunded, meaning anyone on earth can lend money – from $25 to $10,000
  • 0% Interest, meaning lenders do not gain an additional return beyond what they lent
  • Zero Fees, meaning that neither Kiva nor CFAC charges any fees for this service
  • Up to $10,000, although borrowers are encouraged to apply for smaller amounts
  • For terms from 6 months to 36 months, depending on your loan amount
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