By Scott Carlson
Rhys Williams, the first executive director of The Good Acre, plans to retire at the end of 2021, according to the Falcon Heights-based nonprofit food hub.
Williams has been with The Good Acre since its early planning in 2014, assuming the director’s role in 2015, spokeswoman Emily Paul said in a news release.
“Rhys’ ability to listen, learn and shed light on inequities in infrastructure, funding and market access helped make The Good Acre what it is today,” said Paul, former Good Acre programs director and most recently executive director at Minnesota Central Kitchen.
“TGA was built to meet the needs of so many farmers and food makers who, before the food hub existed, were not having their voices heard. The food system in the Twin Cities is better because of his work.”
The Good Acre says its mission is “to connect and strengthen farmers, food makers and communities through good food.” Its work includes “providing one-on-one grower support services to small, local produce farmers, creating wholesale markets that pay an equitable price to farmers and supporting small food businesses through their shared-use, commercial kitchen rental and conducting business workshops.”
With Williams’ imminent departure from Good Acre, the organization’s board of directors has begun searching for his replacement, with the assistance of Joelle Allen of kpCompanies, a Twin Cities-based search firm.
“Our goal is to find a leader who embodies and perpetuates the flexible and supportive culture that Rhys started,” Sara Pohlad, Good Acre co-founder and board member, said in a statement. “We hope to build on his skills as the organization takes steps toward being more diverse and culturally competent at every level, more cohesive in vision and more formal in policy and public partnership.”
Application deadline for interested parties is Friday, Nov. 5. To view the job description and to learn how to apply, visit The Good Acre website at thegoodacre.org.
“The staff at The Good Acre is our strongest asset. We have a group of people who believe in our mission and will work hard to succeed,” Williams said of the opportunity ahead for the next executive director.
Willliams said he enjoyed building Good Acre’s staff and, among other things, collaborating with it “to help farmers improve their lives by opening up markets.”
He added, “The founders were dedicated to food system change and inclusion and I was honored to be asked to join in the early phases of planning for the organization.”
After retiring from The Good Acre, Williams said, he intends to stay involved in local food by returning to small-scale farming to “help friends develop a medicinal herb farm and continue to work in food justice.”
Williams has decades of experience as an organic farmer, according to the news release from The Good Acre. After serving in the Peace Corps in Kenya in the 1980s, Williams grew fruit in upstate New York, British Columbia and Washington state before becoming a partner at Featherstone Farm, a 250-acre certified organic farm in Rushford.
After relocating to the Twin Cities in 2007, Williams worked as a wholesale buyer for Co-Op Partners Warehouse before getting involved with planning for what would eventually become The Good Acre food hub.
Scott Carlson is managing editor of the Bugle.