The 2015 Longwood Graduate Program Professional Outreach Project
Bright Spot Farms: Updated Program and Business Plan
Longwood Graduate Program Longwood Gardens University of Delaware, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
Longwood Graduate Program Fellows: Second-Year Fellows: Andrea Brennan Mackenzie Fochs Frances Jackson Stephanie Kuniholm Keith Nevison
First-Year Fellows: Elizabeth Barton Grace Byrne Alice Edgerton Erin Kinley Tracy Qiu
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Longwood Graduate Program is a two-year curriculum culminating in a Masters in Public Horticulture. In addition to traditional academic pursuits, the Longwood Graduate Fellows engage in several experiential projects, including an annual Professional Outreach Project. In fulfillment of the 2015 Professional Outreach Project, the Longwood Graduate Fellows partnered with Bright Spot Farms, a program of the West End Neighborhood House designed to equip and empower youth aging out of Delaware’s foster care system. The Fellows worked in partnership with Bright Spot staff to complete the following updated program and business plan, making recommendations towards a more sustainable program model. Not only will this document serve as a guide to increase the efficiency and sustainability of Bright Spot, but could also serve as a reference tool for the replication of this program in other cities. Aiming to gain a broad yet detailed view of the many activities of Bright Spot, the Fellows assessed Bright Spot’s programming in five categories: curriculum and work readiness, production, Mobile Market, Cool Spring Farmers’ Market, and contracted landscape services. Within each program area, Fellows observed current activities, benchmarked against similar programs, engaged in interviews, conducted a SWOC analysis, and made recommendations specific to that program area. Based on documentation and assessment of the five program areas, Fellows developed the following key strategic recommendations for Bright Spot Farms: 1. Refine and elevate mission statement. The primary focus of Bright Spot has always been, and continues to be, focused on training young adults aging out of Delaware’s foster care system, as expressed in the mission statement: To employ, empower, and equip youth aging out of the foster care system with the skills and experience needed to successfully transition to adulthood. This mission statement should be more visible, and should be regularly communicated to all staff, board members, program participants, customers,
donors, interns, and volunteers. With this primary focus on training, addition or expansion of horticultural services or food production should be added only as a means or method to support the mission of empowerment. Among all people touched by Bright Spot, there should be no doubt about who and what is at the heart of this program. 2. Define and strengthen relationship between Bright Spot Farms and West End Neighborhood House. Bright Spot Farms has an incredible opportunity to leverage the longevity, good reputation, and resources of their parent organization, West End Neighborhood House. For this relationship to prosper in the future, expectations for support, relationship to other programs, and the needs of Bright Spot staff and participants need to be clearly defined and then supported in action. 3. Adopt a rotational program model. By restructuring program activities to reflect a more explicit focus on trainees, Bright Spot will be positioned to continue to fulfill their mission to, â€œemploy, empower, and equipâ€? trainees. A rotational model would increase communication as well as maximize soft-skill training relevant to any job in any field. Details and schedule for the proposed rotational model can be found on page 54 of this document. 4. Reorganize staff to reflect emphasis on trainees. This reorganization is not simply a recommendation to add staff, but is instead a relocating of staff to better support program activities and to more clearly define responsibilities for existing staff. The only significant staffing adjustment appears in the addition of the Bright Spot Advocate, a skilled and compassionate advocate to work on behalf of the trainees. This individual would specialize in supporting trainees as they experience challenges, while at the same time acting as a liaison between Bright Spot and West End Neighborhood House.
5. Align budgeting process with new program model. In keeping with the reorganization of staff to reflect the recommended program model, designate each rotation-leader to maintain the budget for their section. This may require additional budget training to ensure best practices are being followed. 6. Leverage current facilities. Bright Spot has been provided with the beginnings of highly productive greenhouse and land. With streamlined production, infrastructure upgrades, and refined crop scheduling, these facilities could be even more productive. By using current facilities growing fewer crops with high revenue generation potential, Bright Spot will be able to focus attention on trainees and simplify staff duties. 7. Increase visibility and awareness. The staff and trainees at Bright Spot are doing incredibly important work, which should be shared with a wider audience. Through the increased use of social media, signage, printed materials, and wordof-mouth, the mission and work of Bright Spot could reach more people. 8. Strategically build community partnerships. Bright Spot is in the company of many eager friends who are excited about the possibility of future collaborations. While keeping a focus the mission to support trainees, Bright Spot could strategically assess partners and build relationships to enhance and strengthen training for program participants. Thorough descriptions of interviews, benchmarking, SWOC analyses, and surveys, along with more detailed recommendation rationales can be found in the following report.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The Longwood Graduate Program would like to thank the following individuals and institutions for their professional assistance in the completion of the 2015 Professional Outreach Project at Bright Spot Farms. ● Paul Calistro, Executive Director, West End Neighborhood House ● Marnie Conley, Director of Marketing and Communications and Longwood Graduate Program Co-Lead, Longwood Gardens ● Cathy DiBenedetto, Ph. D., Assistant Professor, Department of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences, Clemson University ● Konrad Kmetz, Ph. D., Business Development, Advanced BioNutrition Company ● Mike McCafferty, Program Manager, Bright Spot Farms ● Mary Peterson, Farm Manager, Bright Spot Farms ● Chelsea Ruiz, Farmers’ Market Manager, Bright Spot Farms ● Brian Trader, Ph. D., DIS Coordinator and Interim-Director of Longwood Graduate Program, Longwood Gardens ● Clint Walker, Managing Director, Barclay Card US, Legal Department, Board Member of West End Neighborhood House ● Jon Webb, Crop Inventory Specialist, Longwood Gardens In addition to the individuals above, the Longwood Fellows would like to extend their thanks to the staff, participants, volunteers, and interns at both Bright Spot Farms and West End Neighborhood House. The warmth and sincerity expressed by the staff and participants brought this project to life in meaningful and unexpected ways. The Longwood Graduate Program Fellows would also like to express their gratitude for the continuous support from both Longwood Gardens and the University of Delaware. It is through this unparalleled generosity that the Fellows are able to learn, grow, and shape the future of public horticulture.