Good morning, friends!
Those of you who have spent some time at The Nashville Food Project know there are a lot of moving parts to our programs. Navigating the year-over-year growth of our organization and the day-to-day operations takes both planning and improvisation.
I was recently introduced to an internal food project document maintained by our indomitable meals team - The Meals Worksheet. This is a planning spreadsheet shared between six people with columns for rescued food coming in, menus going out, hiccups during volunteer meal prep, last minute ingredient switches, and the like. Here is a snapshot of what this document looks like in action:
Likewise, our garden team keeps a massive spreadsheet of plans for the various gardens we steward across the city, with columns for seed variety, greenhouse start dates for succession planting, row feet per crop, numbers related to yield, and more. Our garden team manages to this document with an impressive level of geeked-out detail. Here's a look:
These are just a couple of the tools we use daily to help us plan, communicate, and document the many changes that affect our work flow, our programming, and the good food going out into the community.
When you're growing, cooking, and sharing food for and with the masses, it's essential to make plans. Of course, our growing edge is not learning how to plan better, it's how to let go of the plan when a Pyrex measuring cup shatters into the tomato sauce 20 minutes before meal service or a group of volunteers pulls the strawberry plants from a garden bed instead of pulling the weeds. It seems like life’s best lessons are usually learned when things don’t go as planned.
I'm in awe of our devoted staff who keep well-managed plans and yet stay flexible to the inevitable curve ball, whether it's a bushel of fresh quince to be incorporated into a meal or a hailstorm in March. This work reminds us that we can usher our plans only so far before we must let go of the reins. Or as the poet Wendell Berry, who is so-often quoted in my columns, reminds us:
Grace and peace,