Twice a week my summer commute takes me up the interstate, past classic old red barns, silos, pastures, and – if I’m lucky – horses, to downtown Reedsburg, where I join a small staff of artists, curators and seasoned administrators at the Wormfarm Institute’s offices.
This time of year is a busy one; planning for the annual Fermentation Fest is in full swing. This nine-day festival will see around 25,000 visitors flock to rural Sauk County to experience a convergence of culture and agriculture through workshops, lectures, performances, and the beloved Farm Art DTour. Come October, the DTour – a fifty mile route along roads less-traveled – will be peppered with larger-than-life art installations and sculptures, local vendors selling homemade wares and fermented treats (think pickles, sourdough, hot sauce, kimchi), impromptu performances, and other unexpected delights.
The confluence of artists and landowners, city officials and cheese makers, bicyclists and brewers is itself a kind of wonderful experiment in fermentation – where the organisms present transform the region into something more. “When you ferment something, you create flavor,” writes Arielle Johnson in this recent article on the topic.
It goes without saying that to do this kind of work, the Wormfarm maintains an enormous number of relationships. As such, it has recently invested in new database software to help manage these connections and better track opportunities for donor development. For several weeks now I’ve sifted through a multitude of contact lists and records and prepared a massive file that, once complete, will become a much-needed resource for reporting and analysis. In addition to this project, I’ve been dissecting budgets, revenues, and expenses and am helping to create a series of tools for organizing and analyzing Fermentation Fest programming to better align it with the organization’s financial goals.
Although just a few weeks in, I’ve already drawn repeatedly from the mentorship I received this past year in Overture’s Development department, as well as from those accounting fundamentals I picked up last fall. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to work with such an inspiring group of coworkers this summer and be able to support the development of this transformative organization.
Finally, it goes without saying that I hope to see some business badgers on the DTour this fall! Stay tuned – the Artful Business Collective is planning a weekend excursion to take in the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Fest.