Director's Report: February 2016

Suncoast Gleaning Project Volunteers Leo and Jo Ann Tezduyar harvest tangerines for All Faiths Food Bank on February 8th. This was the first residential fruit tree harvest in the project's six-year history, but it certainly won't be the last.

Suncoast Gleaning Project Volunteers Leo and Jo Ann Tezduyar harvest tangerines for All Faiths Food Bank on February 8th. This was the first residential fruit tree harvest in the project's six-year history, but it certainly won't be the last.

Although Transition Sarasota is still in the process of establishing itself after becoming an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization on January 1st, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and are excited to return focus to our programs in March.

Education for Sustainability Programs

Perhaps our most important programmatic activity that took place this month was a talk I gave for Sustainable Sarasota's Community Partnership Meeting on February 18th. The main thrust of this talk was to encourage a group of volunteers that had formed at last year's Sustainable Communities Workshop to work together to implement some of the food policies included in Sarasota County's new Comprehensive Plan. My presentation appeared to be very well-received and some participants have already joined an online workspace I created for this purpose. Sarasota County Sustainability also recently hired SCOPE (Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence) to assist this group as it moves into action.

Other talks have been scheduled at the Sarasota Honey Company's First Annual Honey Bee Festival at Sweetgrass Farms on March 12th, for the Sarasota Climate Change Meetup at the North Sarasota Library on March 17th, and at State College of Florida in Venice on March 23rd.

Breaking all previous records, our Fruit Tree Paradise Workshop on March 19th sold-out more than two weeks in advance. We are now asking everyone who is interested in this workshop to email info@transitionsrq.org in order to be placed on our waitlist, and if we receive a significant enough response, we plan to schedule another date.

Planning meetings for Sarasota County's 11th Annual Sustainable Communities Workshop will begin on March 10th. The workshop itself has been tentatively scheduled for December 1st.

Local Food Shift Programs

Volunteers contributed 86 hours this month, harvesting 3,196 pounds of produce at Jessica's Organic Farm for All Faiths Food Bank. February also saw our first-ever residential fruit tree harvest, during which seven volunteers gleaned 142 pounds of tangerines. These donations brought the total number of pounds we have provided for All Faiths so far this season to 12,378.

Communications

As usual, Transition Sarasota had its booth at the Sarasota Farmers Market on February 27th and will again on March 26th. While we have been successfully engaging marketgoers and adding dozens of new subscribers to our mailing lists each month, we could use more volunteer support. This also applies to the tent and table we will be setting up at the Sarasota Honey Bee Festival on March 12th.

Fundraising & Finances

Having now fully set up our QuickBooks accounting system, drafted our 2016 budget, and received our Solicitation of Contributions and Sales Tax Exemption certificates from the State of Florida, our efforts to fulfill our bureaucratic obligations as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit are nearly complete.

Also towards this end, Transition Sarasota Board member Darryl McCullough and I attended an orientation for the Community Foundation of Sarasota County's Giving Partner website on February 12th. Once our profile has been finalized and approved, we will be able to apply for grants from the Community Foundation and participate in their annual Giving Challenge, which will take place this year on September 20th through the 21st.

Although our 2016 sponsorship and membership campaigns have yet to officially launch, we already have two new Organizational Sponsors – Big Top Brewing Company and Slow Foods Kitchen – who are both providing $250 worth of product in exchange for recognition on our website and in our newsletter for a full year. The Harvey Center for Integrative Medicine and United Natural Foods/Earth Origins have also recently pledged their support.

Administration

To celebrate our new HuB Campus membership and organizational independence, we will be co-sponsoring the HuB's monthly Pub Party on March 3rd. Our sponsors will provide free local food and drink, Board members will model our new t-shirt design, and we will announce that Transition Sarasota will begin holding regular office hours at the HuB on Tuesdays and Fridays from 11:00am to 2:00pm, starting March 8th.

Last but not least, our new intern, Sarah Moore, has begun working with us remotely as she finalizes the purchase of a home here in Sarasota. Sarah plans to work 10 hours per week at first and has already updated our grants database.