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Southern SAWG Is Closing Its Doors

It is with heavy hearts but immense pride that we, the Board of Directors of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, are announcing that we will be closing our organization. We celebrate the three decades of effort we have put into strengthening and shaping the southern sustainable agriculture landscape, enriching the sustainable agriculture movement of the South. We look forward to the continued development of our regional, state, and local communities to provide the support, technical skill-sharing, and networking for our southern farmers working hard every day to sustain our critical food supply.

From our history, we know this work will continue long into the future. For nearly thirty years, SSAWG has had the privilege of convening some of the most brilliant farm minds in the region. We have witnessed the growth of organizations and farmers who are revolutionizing the southern food system, and we are so proud to have played a part in the deeply important work you do. Through seeds that Southern SAWG has helped to sow, a number of sustainable agriculture organizations in the South have blossomed over the last 29 years.

As the current COVID-19 crisis has reinforced for all, food systems are vulnerable, and farmers need the tools, training, and support to cultivate a more resilient future. As organizational partners grow in each state and across the region to address these issues, and the current state of the world unfolds, Southern SAWG’s mission is more fulfilled. We are so proud of our organizational partners who will continue to do the educational work in the most impacted communities throughout the South.

Thank you to every single person who attended, presented, coordinated, volunteered, funded, and otherwise offered your magic to our 29th annual conference in Little Rock and each conference prior. And thank you to all the farmers, educators, and partners who have shared your knowledge and support in thousands of other ways throughout the past 29 years. You have helped shape SSAWG’s legacy—bold, innovative, adaptive, and fabulous.

Like the sustainable farmers we represent, we understand the importance of fallow times; it is time for us to regenerate and renew the nutrients that feed our southern sustainable agriculture movement. We are proud and thankful for our dedicated board and staff, who no doubt, will continue to support sustainable agriculture in the South through other opportunities. Anytime a viable seed is laid to rest in the soil, an amazing resurgence of growth appears. It is our hope that of the many seeds Southern SAWG has sown throughout the region, what emerges next will be better than we could ever imagine.

Southern SAWG’s offices are closed for new business as of May 31, 2020. Although, we will continue to fulfill current obligations responsibly through the fall of 2020. For questions, please email [email protected].

Yours in collaboration,

The Southern SAWG Staff and Board of Directors

 
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Q. WHEN IS SOUTHERN SAWG CLOSING?

A. The offices of Southern SAWG have closed as of May 31, 2020. A few contracted staff and volunteers are working to complete some current obligations for a few more months.

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Q. WHY DID SOUTHERN SAWG CLOSE?

A. At least three key successive factors led to this extremely difficult decision: 1) ongoing financial stress; 2) difficulty in securing needed staffing during 2019 leading to a lost year of progress; and 3) the COVID-19 pandemic. Through extraordinary efforts by staff and board members, the organization was able to pull through for 29 consecutive years. In 2019 though, without adequate staff in place, we lost a year of funding and program development, putting us further at risk. We also faced the loss of our next conference in 2021, which is our largest event and fund-raiser. The board and staff were committed to rebuilding SSAWG and making it more sustainable in 2020; unfortunately, it became evident that we didn’t have the capacity to implement SSAWG programming in a way that reflected our values.

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Q. DID SOUTHERN SAWG MEET ITS MISSION?

A. The work is never done. But as organizational partners have grown for 29 years in each state and across the region to address these issues, and the current state of the world unfolds, Southern SAWG’s mission is more fulfilled. We are proud of our organizational partners who will continue to do education and advocacy work in the most impacted communities throughout the South.

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Q. CAN I CONTACT SOMEONE AT SOUTHERN SAWG ABOUT UNFINISHED PAST BUSINESS?

A. Yes, at least for a few more months. Send an email to [email protected]

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Q. I HAVE A GREAT IDEA TO HELP THE ORGANIZATION, OR HAVE THOUGHTS ABOUT YOUR CLOSING. CAN I REACH OUT?

A. We appreciate hearing from folks who found our past work valuable, although we are closed and cannot take on new activities. This was an extremely difficult decision that was done with great thought and deliberation. Please keep in mind our hearts are heavy with the closing of our organization and that our staff members are particularly affected. Kind words are very much appreciated.

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Q. CAN I STILL MAKE A DONATION TO SOUTHERN SAWG?

A. No, we are not taking any more donations since we will need to close out reporting to the IRS.

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Q. WHAT WILL SOUTHERN SAWG DO WITH MY CONTACT INFORMATION?

A. Southern SAWG has always had a policy of not selling or sharing contact information (names, addresses or emails) from our database without consent. This will continue. We are exploring ways that we can use our database for a while longer to get information out about current projects that SSAWG has been involved in.

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Q. HOW LONG WILL CONTENT ON THE SSAWG WEBSITE BE AVAILABLE?

A. Until December 2020.

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Q. WHERE CAN I WATCH THE SERIES OF VIRTUAL FARM TOURS; NATURAL FARMING SYSTEMS IN THE SOUTH?

A. Selected titles are available on YouTube.

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Q. WHERE CAN I FIND PRESENTATIONS FROM PAST SSAWG CONFERENCES?

A. Some presentations are available on SlideShare.net. Search by “SSAWG”, “Southern SAWG”, or by the presenter’s name.

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Q. WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION ON FOOD HUBS?

A. Selected webinars from the SSAWG Food Hub Learning Group are available on our YouTube channel, along with some presentations on SlideShare.net. Search by “SSAWG” or “Southern SAWG”. For more extensive resources beyond SSAWG, check out the Food Hub Center at the National Good Food Network.

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Q. WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT SSAWG RELATED TOPICS?

A. We have compiled a list of educational articles for you. Check out the following topics to learn more: