In 2022, F.A.R.M. Cafe celebrated its tenth anniversary of serving in the High Country by hosting various fundraisers, screening a documentary produced by Beth Davison, and continuing the mission of “feeding all regardless of means.”
The purpose of F.A.R.M. Cafe has always been to address the needs of food insecurity while also providing a space where community is created. Executive Director Renee Boughman and the F.A.R.M. Cafe Board of Directors have worked to insure the continued success and commitment of the organization to its mission.
Since opening the doors in May of 2012, F.A.R.M. Cafe has adapted to meet the needs in the area by expanding services with food outreach programs such as Full Circle, sponsoring meals for Hospitality House, providing school lunches, and collaborative efforts with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture to provide healthy meals for LocalFAM (Local Food as Medicine).
The role of Executive Chef and Executive Director has been a singular position with Ms. Boughman but due to expanding programming, it has become increasingly clear that it would be more efficient to create two positions going forward. Having served in this capacity from concept to opening, Boughman approached the Board to request an opportunity to reduce her time. “I knew, and I know, that the right folks are in place to continue the core mission of F.A.R.M. Cafe. Skill sets are important but for us, compassionate commitment to those in need and understanding the reciprocal journey with those struggling in our community tops the list of job requirements!” It became apparent that having one person to fill both roles was no longer feasible.
To ensure long-term sustainability, a decision was made to reorganize the leadership structure of the nonprofit. The Board proudly announces the appointment of Elena Dalton as the new Executive Director of F.A.R.M. Cafe, beginning in November 2022. Mrs. Dalton has been with the cafe since 2018 when she began as the part-time coordinator of Full Circle food recovery program. From the beginning it was obvious to those working with Elena that she would be a true leader in the organization. “As we began thinking about the prospect of finding a new Executive Director, the board was unanimous in their excitement that Elena was already with us, understands the mission, and brings so many connections to the local food community in the High Country,” said Tom Shessler, F.A.R.M. Board President. “We are excited about her taking on this new role and working to extend the success of F.A.R.M.”
F.A.R.M. Cafe has also welcomed Pete Herbert into the role of Executive Chef. Herbert has a long standing history of experience in the community and has found a home in the cafe. “We were so excited to have Pete join our team. I knew he would be a valuable asset and he has far exceeded all our hopes for this position!” said Boughman.
As for Ms. Boughman, rumors of her retirement are greatly exaggerated! She will still be involved in the story of F.A.R.M. Cafe with the bonus of not being tied to daily operations. She will take on the new role of Director of Community Engagement, starting in November. “She has incredible relationships with our producers, vendors, funders and, of course, daily diners. We wanted to keep those connections and build on them. This shift allows Renee the opportunity to focus on development work, personally meet with donors, and share the story of F.A.R.M. Cafe with others,” said Shessler.