Monday, May 19, 2008

Setting CHC apart from the crowd

How do we stand out among similar organizations to become the "go-to" resource for Puget Sound area food and farming news and programs? How do we set ourselves apart from the crowd? How do we increase our value to the community and, in particular, to our members?

I guess the first point to address is whether or not there is a competition between all of the various "green" organizations. In a very general sense, no, there is not. Each organization purports to work toward a similar goal: a better world.

In a specific sense, yes, there is. Each organization has specific methods and tactics to create their vision of a better world and sometimes the strategies or vision of one group push or pull against another. I'll credit Andrew Stout, the owner of Full Circle Farm, with the phrase "coopertition", which is when organizations in the same industry work both competitively AND cooperatively. For example, say there are two farms, each offers a CSA program. One farm specializes in greens, the other in root crops. If they sell/trade their products to each other to add more variety to their CSA programs are they competing or cooperating? Is coopertition a good thing? According to the fundamentals of capitalism, the competitive aspects of the marketplace will foster/force greater innovation, creativity and effectiveness.

But, as a non-profit, we're not developing products for the marketplace, quite the opposite, part of our mission is to create useful programs that aren't available in the marketplace and work with people and groups not served by the general market. We provide programs that aren't commercially viable without external funding.

So, how are we stacking up against our "coopertition"? Well, it seems like we're doing pretty well. We are updating our methods of communication and information dissemination and making strides to improve the quality of information provided. See the new PSF newsletter for an example of both strategies in action.

I think that last point is especially important to our effort to step up and stand out: quality. I believe that, in a word, quality will answer all of the questions posed at the top of the post. With green organizations sprouting up every week or so, our continuing mission will be to have the highest quality information and programs for our community and members. Quantity is valuable in certain contexts, but, in the long run, quality is what people want and seek.


Article roll-call:

FarmLink gets mention in Seattle PI article about young farmers' difficulty finding reasonably priced land in King County

Farm bill helps some Washington farmers, but fails to change most galling policies

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