By Andrea Platt Dwyer,
For several months, Seattle Tilth has been exploring the possibility of merging with one of our sister organizations, Tilth Producers of Washington. Tilth Producers is a statewide organization serving a membership of approximately 500 farmers. Their mission is to promote ecologically sound, economically viable and socially equitable farming practices that improve the health of our communities and natural environment.
Our organizations share a common ethic—a commitment to a way of growing that is sustainable, regenerative and healthy. We also share deep expertise and commitment to experiential, peer-to-peer education.
Together, we would be a larger, more visible and influential organization with increased capacity to advocate for and create systems change. In addition, a merged organization has great potential to:
- Increase the amount of food grown locally using organic principles, in gardens and farms
- Grow the market share for organic foods
- Expand access to healthy, fresh food
- Increase the number and financial viability of organic farms
- Reduce food miles traveled
- Build strong community connections between and among farmers and consumers
- Increase the number of educated consumers demanding nutritious organic food
- Slow or reverse climate change
Both boards voted to embark on this discussion in November 2014. We formed a merger exploration committee consisting of board members, community stakeholders and both executive directors. After a series of meetings and in-depth discussions exploring potential concerns and benefits, our respective boards approved an intent to merge in May.
The next step in this process will consist of comprehensive negotiations. We’ll resolve questions that range from bylaws to programs, membership, staffing and finances. If all goes well, we expect to approve the merger late this year, with an effective date of January 1, 2016.
Through our early discussions, we identified a lot of common ground as well as a few legitimate concerns that need to be addressed. While the concerns are not insubstantial, we firmly believe we can resolve these issues constructively, and that our organizations can come together in a way that preserves our programs, protects our staff and serves our members.
Ultimately, we believe that by coming together we can more effectively engage both rural producers and urban consumers, we can accelerate our progress and we can achieve our vision of a healthy, just and sustainable food system more quickly.
I welcome your thoughts on this important topic. Fill out this two question survey and let us know what you think about a merger. Please email me with questions, concerns, or just to voice your opinion at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at (206) 633-0451 ext. 104. Thank you for your interest and support.