Director’s Message – November 2015

Tis the season of change, the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another. We take this time to look back at the season, remember what worked in the fields and what didn’t work across the farm, and how we can fine tune things to make the years to come better. SEMAP is just like a farm this year, we are beginning another chapter. Our search for a new Executive Director started in August this year and we are happy to say we have found our new leader. It wasn’t easy for the current Board of Directors to find the right candidate from the 20 applications, but they did a great job. On November 3rd Karen Schwalbe was hired. Karen has spent the first week on the job bouncing from meeting to meeting, getting to know where SEMAP is heading as well as learning its history. She’s been busy as we get ready for the December 1st Annual Meeting, the Winter Farmer Chef Networking series and the Food and Ag Conference. Many exciting events are in the works. You will learn more about Karen, her background and her visions and plans to bring SEMAP to the next level in an upcoming newsletter. SEMAP is lucky to have her on board.

We are working hard to bring new programs for experienced farmers who have a few years of farming next year as we continue to help the beginner and seasoned farmers. We’ve heard the seasoned farmers are looking for more marketing help. Experienced farmers are looking for more practical skills. As we work to bring this to the farmers we are connecting with two very interesting pilots. One with INEX in New Bedford, they are bringing IoT tools to local Ag. This will not force you to change what you’re doing today but with the data it gathers will make time management, product uses and traceability easier to control. From well water monitoring to mini sensors that will give real time information on soil temps, moisture and air humidity, these tools can be a wealth of information and a real game changer. This winter, we will also be working with ‘What’s Good,’ they are working hard to get local food to chefs. They are using technology that most of us carry all the time; a cell phone app. Farmers post on the app what they have available weekly and chefs can look on the app, either online or on the phone, and find what is locally available to them. The goal of both pilots is to use technology to maximize the farmer’s time and increase traceability and sales. If you would like more info on either of the two pilots please reach out to any of the SEMAP staff or board members and we will get you involved in them.

Let’s not forget about the Annual Meeting, I am super excited about this event. We are highlighting the economic growth of the Buy Local movement for our region and have invited many of the groups we feel are an integral part of the network to attend. They will be tabling around the room and giving an update on how the year has been in their field. SEMAP will also be giving our own updates from 2015 and the projected budget for 2016, as well as voting on the slate of officers. This will be a great opportunity for some networking with your fellow farmers as well as your State and Local Representatives. Please be sure to RSVP! We look forward to seeing you there. It has been a pleasure to serve as SEMAP’s Interim Executive Director and I’m thankful for the wonderful places I’ve gone and people I have met through this position. I’m honored to turn the reins over to Karen as I return to the Board, I’m confident she will continue to move SEMAP to new heights. Next year will be very exciting.

With dirty hands and a green thumb,

Todd Sandstrum
Interim Executive Director

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