Whatever it takes: Staying true to the vision

In 2020, the Organic Growers School transitioned to a lateral executive team. The move, says Cameron Farlow, the nonprofit’s executive director, has led to a more dynamic approach to leadership. Photo courtesy of Organic Growers School

Editor’s note: For our fall Nonprofit issue, we invited local nonprofit leaders to reflect on the successes and challenges of operating a 501(c)(3) in Western North Carolina. 

Cameron Farlow is the executive director of Organic Growers School. The nonprofit provides ongoing opportunities for farmers and home growers of all levels. The following answers, she notes, were written in collaboration with fellow leadership members Mike Higgins, Nicole DelCogliano and René Foster.

Xpress: What about this year’s volunteer/staff work gives you hope about your nonprofit’s mission and its overall impact on the community?

Farlow & Co.: Our staff brings a lot of enthusiasm, dedication and creativity about how to support people who want to grow food, fiber and medicine. The vision of a thriving food community is always the goal as we develop existing and new programs.

What has been the most challenging aspect of operating your nonprofit this year? 

How to balance our passion for the work and programs we offer with staff capacity and an eye toward our strategic vision.

How have the last 2 1/2 years reshaped the way your nonprofit operates, and do you see these changes as permanent?

OGS transitioned to a lateral executive team in 2020, with a team of four staff sharing the roles and responsibilities of a traditional executive director. This has created an incredibly dynamic leadership team invested in the organization’s health and longevity, as well as our staff’s. The last two years have allowed us to dig deeper into the mission and strategic work we aim to do by asking, “What does it mean to actually create a thriving food community of farmers, growers and eaters?” As we enter our 30th year in 2023, we are committed to supporting farmers, gardeners and conscious eaters in their quest to be resilient, well-resourced, adaptive and empowered.


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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