What is the mission of Minnesota Garlic Festival?
The Garlic Festival is produced as a fundraising event by the Crow River Chapter of the Sustainable Farming Association. In short, the festival’s mission is to further the mission of SFA.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that “supports the development and enhancement of sustainable farming systems through farmer-to-farmer networking, innovation, demonstration, and education“, all funds that come in are used primarily to further those goals. Of course, some amount is also needed to maintain the overhead of the organization and the festival as well.
How are funds raised by the festival used?
- Money from the festival is used enhance SFA’s Farmer-to-Farmer network by providing a venue in which the farmers, especially garlic growers and other direct-to-market growers, can connect with each other, both through the festival itself, and throughout the year with the Networking Groups and Chapters that overlap with the festival;
- Funds are used to expand that network to food providers – restaurants, distributors, processors, co-ops and other retail outlets – and to the consumers, both at the festival itself and through other programs;
- We provide education opportunities for the growers, the food providers/preparers and the public on sustainable farming practices and the benefits of them. This happens both at the festival itself – Ask-the-Expert Stage, SFA interactive exhibits, interactions with and between the producers and the public – and in our other programming throughout the year;
- We spur innovation among the growers: how can we add value to these products? how can we more effectively grow garlic and other products for such a large single-day market? And in late 2017, SFA will be administering a MN Department of Ag Specialty Crops grant to promote and improve premium garlic growing and marketing. We got this grant in part because we already have the network in place via Garlic Fest and the related Upper Midwest Garlic Growers Group to effectively do the outreach and research. We’ll be working with a partner organization, Regional Sustainable Development Project, on this;
- Crow River Chapter has also provided scholarships to encourage people to pursue further study in sustainability, and we produce public events like our a “socials” and farm tours to provide networking and training;
- We also seek to encourage innovation among the food providers – restaurants, co-ops, distributors, processors – to find new ways to use and promote MN premium garlic and other direct-from-the-farm products;
- And, of course, some funds are used to keep the festival going. We not only plan for remounting the festival each year at least to the level of the previous year, but we also try to keep some reserve in case we have another weather disaster (like our 2nd year) in which the festival could easily lose thousands of dollars. Events like this carry a certain degree of financial risk.
Minnesota Garlic Festival is a mission-driven fundraising event that, in and of itself, also goes a long ways to furthering the mission of Sustainable Farming Association.