Monday, September 16, 2013

Weavers Way Community Programs and Weavers Way Co-op: Different Focus but Integrally Related at Henry Got Crops

While Henry Got Crops is one farm, it has two goals, each of which is the focus of a separate organization. Henry Got Crops functions to operate an educational, working farm that serves as a learning opportunity for Saul students, as well as an environmentally responsible source of food for neighboring communities. The two goals are equally important and integrally intertwined in the way we operate the farm with student involvement. Here are a few quick definitions, as they pertain to this article:
"The CSA"- refers to the method of food distribution and the business model of the farm
"The farm" - refers to all farm operations and programs- i.e. the business of the CSA and the education programs
“Henry Got Crops”- (same at “the farm”) refers to all farm operations and programs- i.e. the business of the CSA and the education programs
The educational goal of the farm is realized through the direction of Weavers Way Community Programs (WWCP), the non-profit “sister” of Weavers Way Co-op. WWCP was founded in 2007 by the board of Weavers Way Co-op, though now operates as a standalone organization with its own staff, Board of Directors, and budget. It not only oversees the education programs at Henry Got Crops, but also the farm education programs at the Mort Brooks Memorial Farm, and operates a third educational farm called the Hope Garden at the Stenton Family Manor, one of the largest homeless shelters to serve families in Philadelphia. WWCP also operates the Marketplace Program, a school-based cooperative food business run by students, and acts as an umbrella organization for the Mt. Airy Bike Collective.
The goal of producing environmentally responsible food for the community is the focus of Weavers Way Co-op. Weaves Way Co-op is a cooperative, incorporated, business that sells goods and services. The Farm Department of Weavers Way Co-op operates the business of the CSA at Henry Got Crops and the vegetable production at the Mort Brooks Memorial Farm. Both farms are chemical and pesticide free and serve as educational opportunities for their consumers.
At Henry Got Crops, Weavers Way Community Programs and Weavers Way Co-op work hard to intertwine the goals of the farm through farm education programs and food production.  The goal is to give students valuable, real-world experience while running a business. This integrated approach is a core philosophy of this farm and this concept served as a principle building block when starting it. However, having both organizations involved, allows each to excel in their area of focus, without being spread too thin between both goals. For example, while the CSA can be an outdoor classroom for students, the education programs provide produce and an integrated curriculum that makes the hands on work at the CSA comprehensive to the students.
Weavers Way Community Programs and Weavers Way Co-op have separate budgets, both of which include expenses for Henry Got Crops, whether it is the salary of a Farm Educator or a Farm Manager, seeds for growing carrots for the CSA or cooking supplies for teaching nutrition classes to youth. The cost of a CSA share goes towards the CSA business. When the CSA comes in short of breaking even financially, the difference is made up by the larger organization of Weavers Way Co-op. Income for the farm education programs is generated through grants, fundraisers, and donations from individuals.
As they are designed today, the farm education programs cannot operate without the CSA, and the CSA cannot operate without the farm education programs. We are proud of this unique design and are grateful for the community support that both organizations receive in order to continue growing, together. In the future we hope to have more events that bring together Saul staff and students, WW staff, WWCP staff, and CSA shareholders to celebrate local food and sustainable agriculture.

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