These are the most successful marketing strategies used by the Garden Share program at Community Food Share:
• Word of mouth was one of the most successful ways to get volunteers into the Garden Share programs. Volunteers that were already part of Community Food Share’s work were interested in how to get involved in other ways. These committed volunteers spread the word to friends, family, and even coworkers to help increase the visibility of the program in the community.
• The first VISTA created an informational brochure that was both available for volunteers and interested community members. The Garden Share program guide is available to interested volunteers that wanted more information and those who signed up for garden or gleaning events.
• The second VISTA worked on a re-designed Garden Share info leaflet (original brochure) and Grow a Row flyer for 2018. The Grow a Row flyer was distributed throughout the warehouse and in various community centers across the food bank’s service counties. The new leaflet is currently being rolled out with other materials from Community Food Share’s 2018 rebrand. The info leaflet will be used at tabling events and other outreach opportunities during the entire calendar year. It is designed to be a brochure insert or stand on its own.
• The third VISTA re-worked the Garden Share info leaflet and Grow a Row flyer with the Director of Communications at Community Food Share, making sure to keep all branding consistent across all the printed material. The Grow a Row flyer was distributed to garden centers, coffee shops, and other local businesses that had a community announcement board as well as community centers. The leaflet is being used as an additional insert inside of the Community Food Share brochure as well as being used as an additional handout at tabling and speaking events.
• Reaching out to local newspapers was a great way to get short press releases and even full stories published to the public. This article ran in two different local newspapers. Within days of it being published, the VISTA was contacted by a property owner wanting to donate private land for the Earth’s Table gardens. The second VISTA reached out to a local radio station for underwriting space – this is something that will roll out in the 2019 season.
• The first and second VISTAs both tabled at local farmers’ markets. The second VISTA expanded market presence from one to three different markets throughout the food bank’s service area. These were a great opportunity for volunteer ambassadors and the VISTA to reach out to the community, telling people about the food bank and Garden Share program. Other events, such as volunteer fairs at the University of Colorado, community events, and monthly group meetings, were attended to maximize public engagement.
• The Community Food Share website also hosts a page with information on the Garden Share programs. This webpage gives information on how to get involved, how to donate from your garden, and how a large agricultural producer can become a donor.
• The second year VISTA spent a great deal of time working on the branding of the Garden Share program to ensure its salience for many years to come. She created a marketing plan for the third year VISTA to follow and edit for future years. Additionally, she created a Garden Share Program Guide (different than the first VISTA’s guide) to be utilized internally for all staff moving forward. This is a quick run-down of the program, giving background and providing statistics comparing the fiscal years and growing seasons of the first two AmeriCorps VISTAs.