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A Message from Karen Schwalbe, Executive Director

December 5 @ 6:58 pm

It is with heartfelt gratitude that I say farewell to SEMAP and end this remarkable chapter in my life. For the past seven years I have been embraced by our community of farmers, foodies, colleagues, partners, and supporters – many of whom have since become friends – as I took on the task of advancing agriculture and promoting local food in our region. This community taught me how to best advocate for farmers and keep them doing what they love. SEMAP has never been just a job for me; it has become a central part of who I am and a source of constant pride. 

I am proud of the work SEMAP has accomplished over these years – expanding promotion of and access to local food, supporting our farmers and fishers through business and technical assistance, putting a spotlight on local food for our legislators at Ag Day at the State House, and sharing the joyful bounty of local food through our Farm to Tapas dinners, to name just a few. Through all of this, we have been able to help our food system continue to grow and become more resilient in the face of myriad challenges.

I have so much appreciation for the SEMAP team through these years – Kendra (Murray) Parker, Jon Gray, Janina Busch Amrhein, Michelle Wilson, Emily Mellgard Sheridan, Dawn Dufault, Olivia Hart, and our current staff Shannon Hickey and James Lehner. Their efforts are the foundation of SEMAP’s growth and success. Shannon and James will ably handle this transition period as the SEMAP Board searches for my successor and their knowledge and skill is what makes my departure possible.

When I began at SEMAP, the board and staff were rebuilding from a difficult period and I stepped in to sustain our momentum, reach further into the community to understand their needs, increase promotion for local food, and deepen support for our region’s farmers. Stepping to the podium at my first Ag & Food Conference just a few months into my tenure, I was able to experience firsthand the beauty of our agricultural community.  This is a community of knowledgeable, hardworking farmers, devoted lovers of local food, and believers in a local agricultural economy, and it has been an honor to work with you.

Farming is an act of hope. It is hard labor physically and mentally and the rewards are often elusive. In a world where globalized supply chains rule our lives and efficiency and volume are king, I believe small-scale, diversified agriculture is an answer to our most pressing agricultural problems: working conditions for farm laborers, depletion of topsoil, economic concentration in agricultural industries, and the loss of rural communities.

Leaving SEMAP is not a decision I made lightly, but I will not be too far away as I start this next chapter. I look forward to continuing to advocate for Massachusetts farmers through my new position as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau, and working alongside SEMAP as we assist Massachusetts farmers to build on our successes statewide.  

Liz Wiley, our Board President, is leading a transition team to search for a replacement. A job posting will be released shortly and we hope to have a new Executive Director in place by the end of the year.  While any transition like this comes with uncertainty, this is also a tremendous opportunity for SEMAP to continue to grow in its work supporting local agriculture and creating a more equitable food system. We are hopeful the next Executive Director will be someone who is passionate about our community and region, with an understanding of farm issues, and who can help lead SEMAP into the next era. 

 

Details

Date:
December 5, 2022
Time:
6:58 pm

POST DATE: 10/13/2022

Executive Director

  • Salary Range: $55,000 – $72,000 commensurate with experience. 
  • Full-time Exempt. 40+ hours per week, evening and weekend hours and regional travel required, with an average of 3-4 evening engagements and one weekend commitment per month.  
  • Priority will be given to applicants living in Bristol, Norfolk, or Plymouth counties.

Preference given to applications received by November 10th with preliminary interviews the third week of November
Start Date: ASAP

The Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP), a 501c3 organization serving farmers and promoting local food, is seeking an organized and dynamic Executive Director with a passion for local farming who can lead our team of two full-time staff; advocate for sustainable agriculture; administer a robust program; and work with a board of directors to develop a plan that will facilitate the long-term growth of agriculture in Southeastern Massachusetts.

SEMAP is dedicated to preserving and expanding access to local food and sustainable farming in Southeastern Massachusetts through research and education. We support farms, farmers, fishers, and communities in Bristol, Norfolk, and Plymouth counties. In addition to working directly with the agricultural community, SEMAP acts as a regional facilitator for cooperative work on agricultural issues. The ED is expected to work alongside staff and the board of directors to carry out SEMAP’s mission.

Roles & Responsibilities:

  • Actively advocate for agricultural advancement in our region
  • Lead a small staff (2 FT) and support communications and program work as needed
  • Manage all financial and administrative tasks including bookkeeping, budgeting, grant management, and annual events
  • Manage all fundraising including grant writing, individual and corporate donations, and sponsorships
  • Maintain and expand membership
  • Oversee planning and execution of SEMAP’s annual Agriculture & Food Conference with support from staff and a planning committee of 5-10 community members
  • Plan and oversee fundraising events
  • Move SEMAP forward in our ongoing equity efforts
  • Work with and regularly report on staff work and projects to the SEMAP Board of Directors
  • Participate in regional conversations around farmland access, viability, and protection
  • Serve as liaison for SEMAP and the Southeastern Massachusetts community with regional and state-wide partners and agencies. 

Required Qualifications:

  • Passion for local agriculture and an excellent working knowledge and understanding of regional agricultural issues
  • A commitment to equity, justice, and inclusion, as well a growing understanding of how inequities appear in our regional food system. 
  • Non-profit senior management and leadership experience including: financials and budgeting, fundraising, donor relations, and program development and management
  • Bachelor’s or advanced degree and/or significant agricultural experience
  • Competence with QuickBooks
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Determine and manage multiple priorities with attention to detail
  • Experience with G-Suite, Google products, and donor database management
  • Familiarity with WordPress, Constant Contact and Adobe/Canva

Working Conditions:

    • Must be able to primarily telework and manage a staff virtually
    • Weekly or biweekly travel required to support specific events and fundraising efforts
    • Will occasionally be required to lift and carry up to fifteen (15) pounds
    • Required to work with the public, including public speaking

Application process:

Submit resume and letter of interest as a PDF to jobs@semaponline.org. Preference given to applications received by November 10th.  At least two interviews will be expected for a successful applicant.

The Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership, Inc. is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion or religious creed, mental or physical disability, medical condition, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, military or veteran status or other characteristics protected by state or federal law or ordinance.

Details

Date:
December 5, 2022
Time:
6:58 pm

MDAR staff joined SEMAP to meet with local farmers, hear about the challenges they face and support they need

DARTMOUTH, MA – On Tuesday, August 30, SEMAP led staff from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), including Commissioner John Lebeaux and Deputy Commissioner Ashley Randle, on a tour of local farms in Westport and Dartmouth. Together, they met with local farmers to hear about their success and difficulties, and discuss what support is needed to keep local agriculture strong.

The tour began at Westport Dairy, and included stops at The Neighborhood Farm, Round the Bend Farm, Brix Bounty Farm and Westport Sea Farms, giving MDAR staff the chance to see a wide variety of agricultural productions in the area.

“We had a great experience today hosted by SEMAP, seeing the vast array of agricultural activities that happen in Southeast Massachusetts,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “I think we’ve learned, particularly over the last two and a half years, when the food supply was to some degree jeopardized, how important local food is – And it’s not just local food, it’s everything that makes that happen: keeping space open, supporting local businesses, and feeding the local economy as we feed the residents of Massachusetts.”

“We’re always grateful to have the Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner, and the Department of Agriculture here in Southeastern Mass to show the diversity of farming operations we have here and for farmers to be able to interact directly with the Department,” said Karen Schwalbe, Executive Director of SEMAP.

SEMAP is one of the nine Buy Local organizations in Massachusetts, providing business assistance to farmers and farmworkers across 75 towns in Bristol, Plymouth and Norfolk counties, including financial management tips, networking with other service providers, and marketing and social media advice. They also educate consumers on the benefits of local farms and local food, why local farms are important and how to find them. Founded in 1998, SEMAP will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year.

 

 

Details

Date:
December 5, 2022
Time:
6:58 pm

On Friday, February 18, SEMAP, MDAR and Langwater Farm were excited to host USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Affairs Jenny Lester Moffitt for a farm visit and conversation about the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP).

Though the air was chilly, spirits were high as we arrived at Langwater Farm in Easton. While farmer Kevin O’Dwyer was many feet in the air helping with construction of the new farm store, his wife and fellow farmer Kate greeted SEMAP staff and MDAR Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program Coordinator, Rebecca Davidson. Before long, US Lester Moffitt joined us to tour the farm and discuss the ways food incentive programs have helped Langwater Farm and their customers.

FMPP is a USDA grant that supports “projects that develop, coordinate and expand direct producer-to-consumer markets to help increase access to and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products.” Through training and support for local farms, farmers markets and other organizations, FMPP is critical to the continued use and expansion of incentive programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Massachusetts’ Healthy Incentive Program (HIP).

When we arrived at Langwater Farm, Kevin O’Dwyer was high above us working on the new farmstore with his crew

As we moved from the old farm store through the greenhouses, the conversation ranged from the incentive programs and their function, to the broader impacts they have on the community, and how they support local food and growers like the O’Dwyers. Last year, SEMAP surveyed SNAP and HIP farmers, and many responded describing the benefits not just to shoppers, but to themselves. By allowing low-income families the ability to purchase fresh, local food without cutting prices, these programs increase access while also protecting small farm businesses.

The benefits of the HIP program are widespread. As Sarah Labossiere of Mass in Motion Fall River explains, “it benefits folks who need a hand up to afford healthy food, it increases sales for local farmers, it helps the local economy, and it benefits the environment by reducing pollutants related to long distance transportation of produce.” Programs like this support the entire local food community. In 2021, HIP use continued growing throughout the state, a trend that started at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Department of Transitional Assistance, HIP experienced four straight million-dollar months from July through October. This past December, SNAP families used 60% more HIP incentives than they did exactly one year before in December 2020.

Langwater Farm is a great example of how important and impactful incentive programs like SNAP and HIP can be. “We love HIP here,” they told us. “On a personal level, we love that HIP does so much to make fresh, locally-grown organic veggies available to everyone in our community. We work really hard to grow good food, and we want that to be accessible to everyone, no matter what.”

Bouncing from greenhouse to greenhouse under the shadow of the soon-to-be farm store, Undersecretary Lester Moffitt asked questions about the impact of these programs, and about farming and agricultural issues in the Northeast as a whole. Before her appointment to USDA, she served in the California Department of Food and Agriculture for six years. Prior to this, she had managed her family’s walnut farm. While her experience with agriculture is extensive, the O’Dwyer’s helped to offer a perspective on what makes farming in Southern Massachusetts unique, challenging and rewarding.

Incentive programs like HIP also provide a great business opportunity for farmers as well. “At the start of Covid, we began opening one day a week in the winter to help keep local food available in our community, and to provide our crew with a more steady, reliable work schedule,” they said. The impact of these programs was immediately clear. “We were surprised at how robust HIP sales are during these winter months, and those strong sales were definitely a factor in the decision to keep going with this new winter schedule again this year.”

Undersecretary Lester Moffitt, middle, enjoys some fresh bean sprouts from Langwater Farm to end our trip

Other incentive programs in the state have a similar value to consumers and farmers. According to Sarah Labossiere, “The Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which supplies coupon vouchers to both WIC recipients as well as income eligible seniors, is also a fantastic program that draws folks into the farmers markets who might not otherwise venture there to buy produce.”

Farmers across our region accept different incentive programs, all seeking to provide the same support for low-income and food insecure families. At Oakdale Farms in Rehoboth, Laura Smith sees the benefit in these programs for her farm and her neighbors. “The FMNP and HIP food incentive programs have a major impact on my farm business. Without those programs, my sales would dramatically decrease, and my farm would not be able to continue to be in business.” Beyond the impact on her own farm, enabling shoppers to buy fresh, local food who might not otherwise is her motivation.

“What gets me through the  long hard days of farming is the impact they have on my customers,” Smith says. “Shopping at farmers’ markets can be considered a luxury. Consumers want to be able to buy fresh fruits and vegetables to serve to their families because they know it tastes great and is healthier. Moms-to-be and seniors want to eat healthily. Families with little ones want to  introduce the kids to eat veggies while they are young.”

Undersecretary Lester Moffitt was appointed to her position by President Biden in August of 2021. She was confirmed in October of last year, and now plays an important role in supporting the promotion and use of these incentive programs and others like them. As the air grew colder and the sun began to dip, the Undersecretary said goodbye, but not before we could invite her to return to the region later in the year to see what a Massachusetts farm looks like in-season, or to maybe wade into a cranberry bog with us.

Details

Date:
December 5, 2022
Time:
6:58 pm
Event Tags:
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This past Sunday, at the 15th Annual Agriculture and Food Conference, SEMAP announced the recipients of the 2022 Technology, Innovation, and Excellence (TIE) Awards. This year’s award-winners were selected from a highly competitive applicant pool across out region, and were selected by a committee of SEMAP staff and board members.

SEMAP’s TIE Awards are intended to promote innovation and experimentation for farmers and agricultural producers by relieving economic barriers. Applications were submitted and evaluated on their value to both their farm production and the larger agricultural community.

The 2022 TIE Award Recipients are:

Receiving a TIE Award also comes with a responsibility to report on findings and knowledge gained from these projects. Results will be presented to the community in a number of ways, through SEMAP Twilight Events, written stories in SEMAP newsletters, and more.

We look forward to sharing these projects with the entire SEMAP community. Congratulations to all of our TIE Award winners!

Details

Date:
December 5, 2022
Time:
6:58 pm
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