The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.
1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?
NUBIA is continuously working to increase the amount of fresh, healthy produce we distribute to our neighbors, as well as the number and quality of programs we offer to engage the community in urban agriculture, nutrition, fitness, and culture. In last year's application we defined success as:
a. Increase the amount of fresh, local food donated to food pantries and sold at farmers’ markets located low-income neighborhoods (specifically Roxbury).
b. Offer both paid and volunteer opportunities for youth to learn more about urban agriculture, nutrition, cultural cooking, and job skills. Provide a safe and healthy environment for at-risk youth.
c. Develop acquired land to improve site quality and increase yield, and seek to acquire more land to increase gardening capacity
d. Improve and seek new community relationships to include community members from the neighborhoods around our gardens in our work.
e. Increase crop diversity and availability of culturally significant crops in Boston’s urban agriculture community.
f. Partner with universities to participate in urban agriculture research and offer internships for students to gain practical experience.
g. Provide horticulture, nutrition, cooking and skills building workshops at our center to engage community members in urban agriculture.
2. What are your strategies for making this happen?
NUBIA will continue to work with its strong and diverse network of organizations, community partners, and volunteers to strengthen and expand our programs and gardening sites. As in previous years, we will continue to maintain our gardens through a combination of staff support, volunteer labor, and youth program support. This coming season we would like to hire two separate positions to better enable us to focus on our goals for this year. The garden manager position would be in charge of assisting with planting, garden maintenance, and harvesting and would also run the farmers' markets and coordinate community partnerships. We would also like to hire a youth/volunteer coordinator, who would be in charge of summer and school year youth programs, as well as volunteer coordination, and community program planning.
As we move ahead into the next year we would like to incorporate feedback from customers and community partners in selecting crops to plant, modify the youth summer program to incorporate lessons learned from the past year, continue to build stronger relationships with our community partners, and put more focus on community programs. We also hope to continue with the city's SuccessLink and ABCD programs in summer 2018 in order to host 10-15 students at summer jobs where they can both receive an income and learn more about urban growing. We hope to continue selling at the BMC and ISBCC markets and donate excess produce to our community partners. In terms of community engagement, we will continue to offer and advertise gardening and cooking workshops, as well as recruiting volunteers and attending community events to raise awareness. Finally, we will continue to search and apply for more funding and collaboration opportunities to further fund our efforts.
We have also been interested in recent years in making our programs as efficient as possible to continue to increase our impact without exceeding our modest budget and staffing capacities. This year we took two important steps towards this goal when we acquired our new piece of land and our own vegetable cooler. The new garden is twice as large as our largest garden before, and is very close to two of our donation recipients, as well as one of our markets. The position and size of this garden, as well as the addition of a cooler to our center has allowed us to greatly cut down on our travel time and focus more of our time on energy on programming, rather than spending time and resources frequently moving between gardens.
3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?
NUBIA has been growing fresh and culturally significant produce in the Roxbury and Dorchester communities for nearly 10 years now. The growing program started in one community garden plot with no budget to speak of, and has grown to our current reach, growing on 11 sites around the city and harvesting over 7,000 pounds a year, due to the dedication and passion of our Executive Director, Sayed Mohamed-Nour. What NUBIA lacks in budget and staff, it makes up for in experience, strong community partnerships, and dedicated volunteers. Sayed and those who work with him are always willing to put in the work needed to turn a vacant lot into a prospering garden in one growing season, and are confident that if the work and care are put in, funding and success will come. The name of the program Seed & Yield comes from this philosophy: "Whoever sincerely works, gains, and whoever seeds, yields." This philosophy drives NUBIA, and those who dedicate their time to help make the organization a success.
NUBIA has a number of community partners who have been key in our successes thus far and have enriched the students' engagement with the community. We enjoy a supportive partnership with The Food Project, and work closely with their Dudley Greenhouse, where we start our seedlings and share their cooler for produce storage. They have also offered their expertise for several garden development projects, such as our new rainwater catchment system. We also partner with SuccessLink and ABCD to host paid students in the summer and school year to teach youth job development and urban agriculture skills. Our small size allows us to dedicate attention and time to our small cohort of students each summer.
We enjoy partnerships with several local organizations also working on issues of food access and hunger as well. We donate regularly to the BMC Food Pantry, which has a program that allows doctors to prescribe their patients healthy food. We also donate our produce to Haley House, Rosie’s Place, the Daily Table, and the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC) regularly. Additionally, we have begun to work with the Boston Public Health Commission this year through our lease of their rooftop garden space, as well as expanded our relationship with ISBCC to offer a weekly farmers' market and support their initiative to clean up and maintain a nearby park.
4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?
NUBIA tracks several metrics in order to evaluate our progress. Success is measured in part by the amount of food grown, donated and sold in the 2018 growing season through expanded gardening programs and improved urban agricultural methods, as compared to the same figures recorded in previous years. Success in the youth programs will be measured by number of youth employed or engaged in urban agriculture volunteer opportunities or workshops, and the variety of activities provided in the summer program. Additionally, we will give all youth employed through the DYEE SuccessLink or Summer Job programs a pre- and post-program assessment measuring their confidence in job readiness, interpersonal skills and agricultural/nutrition knowledge to gauge the effectiveness of these programs in teaching their intended skills.
Specific metrics include:
• Pounds of produce harvested, sold and donated
• Number of programs offered, number of individuals participating, as well as qualitative data on how participants liked the programs, how much they felt they learned, and other programs they would like to see
• What important veggies or herbs customers can’t find easily or affordably in Boston, through short surveys or dot surveys at our farmers’ markets
• Number of students served during the summer and winter/spring terms, and quality of experience as measured by pre- and post-program surveys asking students about they comfort level with a variety of tasks/topics and general satisfaction with the program
5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?
While there is no one solution to issues of equitable food access, urban food production, or youth engagement, we have experienced great success in the past few years in engaging young people and a diverse group of community members in urban agriculture, increased produce consumption, cultural exchange, and food access. Through our urban gardens, donation programs, farmers' markets, and youth programs we simultaneously achieve our goals of teaching Boston youths valuable work and food production skills and providing fresh, local, healthy, culturally appropriate, and accessible produce to all members of the community. Each year we continue to increase the amount of fresh produce we are able to grow, sell, and donate in the city.
In the past year, we achieved our goals of increasing the amount of food we sold, harvested and donated, increasing the variety of vegetables offered, and continuing to build our summer youth program. In 2017 we added a new parcel of land to our production, a 10,000 square foot rooftop garden leased from the Boston Public Health Commission. This garden allowed us to increase our production, as well as diversify our crops, and as a result we were able to sell more produce at our farmers' markets, and had more left over to donate to our community partners. We also opened a new farmers' market at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center that was very successful. We continued to offer low prices and accept WIC coupons and the new HIP SNAP matching program points to achieve our goal of keeping our produce as accessible as possible.
We also had our most successful summer youth program yet, hosting 13 youth throughout the summer. Youth were given the chance to get experience with job environments, urban farming techniques, and customer service. We also ran special programs to give the students experience with special career skills, local art, community engagement, and cooking skills.
Finally in 2017 we finally were able to purchase our own vegetable cooler with the help of a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Research. Previously, we have had to rely on the kindness of the Food Project to use a small portion of their cooler. Having our own cooler has allowed us to have a more flexible harvesting schedule, saved us the time of traveling to and from TFP, and has kept our produce fresher between garden and market or donation.