Birth of a New Nonprofit Organization: the Farmers Guild!

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Last summer, with a shared vision, FarmsReach and the Farmers Guild joined forces to better connect the agricultural community in California. At that time, there was just one Farmers Guild in Sebastopol, which brought together anywhere from 20-50 farmers for a casual monthly potluck. FarmsReach had also recently launched its online platform to build stronger connections between both farmers and partner agricultural organizations.

Since then, both the Farmers Guild and FarmsReach have grown tremendously together.

With the help of FarmsReach’s funding and supportive online community, as well as the donated time and space by Guild member volunteers and Grange Halls, the Farmers Guild has expanded to six more regions, stretching from Mendocino to Nevada County to Santa Cruz – with more to come.

We first highlighted Evan Wiig, the founder of the first Farmers Guild and co-organizer of each of the new Guilds, back in September. Now it’s with great excitement that we announce the formation of the new Farmers Guild nonprofit organization in which he will serve as Executive Director.

Evan has been an infectious speaker and inspiring community organizer for the Farmers Guild and FarmsReach while we have worked together. Below I talked briefly with Evan about his plans for the Guilds going forward!


FarmsReach: Reflecting on the past year when the Farmers Guild grew from just one to six regions (and growing fast!), what thoughts or feelings first come to mind?

Evan Wiig: I feel that with such expansion, it requires new responsibilities, a deeper focus, and a renewed approach to fulfill our mission. The success of these Guilds stems from the recycling of old models and adapting them to the environment, culture, and needs of today.

We arrived at the right moment. This generation has matured within a renaissance of food culture and it has rekindled an agrarian spirit. As the proliferation of social media shows, it’s a generation that yearns to be more connected, more collaborative, and to engage in a conversation larger than themselves.

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North Coast Farmers Guild

FR: You’ve been helping the agricultural movement by connecting farmers both online via FarmsReach and offline.  Have you learned anything or changed any of your views about technology over the past year? 

EW: The key has been creating a balance between our online tools and our in-person meet-ups. We don’t just “like” an online video showing a bicycle-powered chicken plucker; we take notes, share it with our fellow poultry-wranglers, and then go outside to build our own.

The ability for us to reference online tools and resources at each Guild gathering and then being able to reference our Guild gatherings when posting about online tools and resources has created a very real, very tangible, and very effective loop.

FR: Will the Farmers Guild change now that you are a nonprofit organization?

EW: Our mission remains the same. The only difference is that our new organization will allow us to more fully acknowledge all the volunteers, donations, and partnerships with other nonprofits that make our work possible.

FR: What is your focus going to be with the Farmers Guild for the next six months? Next year? Five years?

EW: Over the next six months, we plan to continue our usual work supporting and connecting the existing Guilds, as well as supporting one or two new groups with Guild aspirations. We’ll be focusing on the structure of the organization, soliciting as much input from our Guild community as possible to assure that we’re meeting their needs.

In addition, we’ll be hosting many exciting events and campaigns to promote our mission to the wider community, bringing more attention to the newest wave of farmers; their needs, obstacles and hopes.

We’re going to make sure that everyone with a vested interest in agriculture—i.e. everyone who eats—can tap into the Guild community in one way or another. We want agriculture to be more than just another industry.

FR: Of course your project funding will be coming from other sources now, like grants, donations and sponsorships. Is there anything you’d like to share about your fundraising strategy or short-term requirements?

EW: We hope that everyone can join us on July 1st for a fun-packed whole hog roast, jamboree, and fundraiser at the Sebastopol Grange. We’ll be offering food, music, games, and an opportunity to engage with the real world of our local farmers through a campaign we’re calling “Free Farmers”.

Enjoying a speaker over dinner at the Mendocino Guild

Mendocino Farmers Guild

Visit our website, like us on Facebook, and stay tuned to FarmsReach for more updates.

FR: Can you talk a little bit about your new fiscal sponsor Ag Innovations (an organization we greatly respect!) and what they do as your fiscal sponsor?

EW: As our nonprofit 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor, Ag Innovations essentially allows the Farmers Guild to be a project of their existing nonprofit organization. Now we can accept tax-deductible donations and avoid the legal fees and time delays setting up as our own nonprofit organization.

For fourteen years, Ag Innovations has been working to unite people through constructive dialogue all for the sake of building a healthier food system. Their commitment to community organizing and agricultural reform is very aligned with our own.

Through this partnership, we hope to build a bridge between those working in our food system with those growing the food. We are incredibly excited about this relationship.

FR: Can we still have your band Whiskey & Circumstance play for our events?

EW: Yes, our band will happily play for FarmsReach and for any other events. Donations always accepted by the new Farmers Guild 501(c)3!

FR: Anything else you want to share?

EW: On a top level, we envision an agricultural community founded by farmers for farmers who collaborate toward the economic viability of local agriculture, as well as the social networks necessary to attract, cultivate, and sustain a new generation ready to work the land.

As we work to establish an integrated network of social and professional hubs across California, we look forward to continued collaboration with all, like FarmsReach, who champion our mission, and we offer our gratitude to everyone who has helped us along the way.

See you at the Guild and on FarmsReach. And, we can’t wait until July 1st!  Come join us!


Congratulations to the Farmers Guilds’ growth over the past year! We wish Evan, Tiffany Nurrenbern, and all the Guild members continued success and steady growth for years to come. We also look forward to our continued partnership and collaboration.

For more information about the Farmers Guild, check out their site. You can also contact Evan directly at evan@farmersguild.org.

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