FAQs: the Seattle Tilth and Tilth Producers of WA Merger
Q: Why are the two organizations merging?
As a new merged organization, our impact will be greater and we will have a better chance of realizing our shared goals in creating a sustainable and equitable food system. Key benefits of merging include:
- Larger, more visible and influential organization
- Increased capacity to advocate for and create systems change
- Enhanced ability to raise funds
- Tilth Producers will gain the benefits of joining a larger organization with good infrastructure
- Seattle Tilth will gain a statewide network
Q: How did this merger come about?
Seattle Tilth’s Executive Director, Andrea Dwyer, and Tilth Producers’ Executive Director, Michele Catalano, sat down to discuss the relationship between the two organizations back in 2014. They knew that the two organizations came from the same origins (see History of the Tilth Movement) and found it interesting that after 40 years, the mission statements were nearly identical. They wondered if it would be more efficient and otherwise beneficial to work more closely. They decided it’d be worthwhile to create a committee to examine the strengths, weakness and opportunities in each organization and explore the idea of merging. There was a great amount thoughtful exploration and due diligence from the merger committees and both boards.
Q: Why merge instead of partner or support each other?
Loose collaboration could be somewhat beneficial but wouldn’t unlock the same potential that will come from actually combining forces. A united organization will enable both organizations to continue carrying out current priorities while having greater reach, a stronger portfolio of programs and increased capacity and greater impact.
Q: What will be the overall gain for the community?
The merged organization will be able to reach more people throughout the state, making it possible to:
- Increase the amount of food grown locally using organic principles, in gardens and on farms
- Grow the market share for organic foods
- Expand access to healthy, fresh food for consumers
- Increase the number and financial viability of organic farms
- Reduce food miles travelled
- Build stronger community connections between and among farmers and consumers
- Increase the number of educated consumers demanding nutritious organic food
- Slow or reverse climate change
Q: Will the character of Seattle Tilth or Tilth Producers get lost?
Our goal is to unite forces in a way that retains the best of both cultures. We’ll spend time thinking about who we are and how we identify ourselves, what we want to call our new organization and how to integrate plans and systems. We don’t have preconceived notions about what people want, nor do we think we have all the answers.
Q:What will the new organization look like?
Programs in both organizations will continue as usual while we learn more about how our combination can lead us to a stronger future. Current strategic plans for Seattle Tilth and Tilth Producers will form the basis of the new organization. The 2016 board of directors will be comprised of six members from current boards plus six new members. The new organization might have a new name – stay tuned!
Q: What will happen with staff?
Andrea Platt Dwyer, current executive director of Seattle Tilth, will continue in that role, while Tilth Producers’ executive director Michele Catalano will assume leadership of the new organization’s farm programs, including the educational programs currently offered by Tilth Producers. All current staff will transition to the new organization.
Read our post Merging into a Statewide Organization: Seattle Tilth Joins Forces with Tilth Producers for more information.