UACC In Transition…

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Change is a natural and healthy part of growth. It is the magic of transformative change that turns a tiny seed into a plant that yields pounds of tomatoes with just a touch of nurturing care. Similarly, transition and evolution are inherent in agriculture and in grassroots organizations. We change what crops we plant, and when we plant them, based on the weather. We fine-tune the way we serve the community to make sure we respect the evolving needs and interests of the people who live there. In 2012, UACC emerged as the natural next step for the Quality Community Council’s QCC Farms initiative, which began in 2007.  Some of the dedicated people who were involved with QCC helped us make that successful transition to UACC. As they moved on, new people stepped up with ideas and energy that helped shape what UACC is today.

Over the past six years, the UACC team has had to learn to navigate the complex world of running a small non-profit organization. We know how to connect with the community and bring people together from diverse backgrounds.  In 2017, we grew over 18,000 pounds of food and shared it free-of-charge with the community. We also created a new garden in response to community requests at South First Street. We know our strengths, and we have been able to efficiently do thoughtful and beneficial work on a small budget, with the help of many committed volunteers. That said, we have continually struggled to grow as an organization. We have had some success with cultivating a core group of generous individual and foundation-based donors, and we a deeply grateful for their support. Nonetheless, balancing fundraising and organizational development with growing and sharing food have proven challenging.  After riding the non-profit financial roller coaster year after year, sometimes having to make major sacrifices just into survive to the next season, we knew it was time for a change.

This spring, UACC is preparing for the next phase in the life of the gardens, though we don’t yet know what that will be. We are in dialogue with several non-profit groups that share our commitment to grassroots leadership and working in direct partnership with local residents to guide the vision and mission of the gardens. They too believe in the power of growing food as a way of bringing people together, and they each bring a new level of capacity for fundraising and organizational development, which UACC could never quite afford. As often happens when one pursues a new path, we are finding out that the transition of leadership and responsibility is more complicated and takes a lot longer than we realized. We will keep you posted as things develop and appreciate your continued patience as we work through this transition.

While I have officially stepped down as UACC Operations Director, you will still see me around the neighborhood, both as a volunteer helping UACC coordinate the garden transition and through my new role as a Community Outreach and Investigation Specialist with the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights. It is my sincere hope that you too will stay involved and in touch as we find a new path to continue working together to grow and share healthy food and cultivate healthy communities!

Sincerely,

Todd Niemeier
(The Former Farmer Todd)

P.S. Below is a collage of photos from 2017. It was a tremendous year, and we’re grateful to all the community members and supporters who made it possible!

2017 Collage

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