Sustainable Berea Inc
PO BOX 1302
BEREA KY 40403-3302
Contact Information
Nonprofit Sustainable Berea Inc
Address PO BOX 1302
BEREA, KY 40403 3302
Phone (859) 896-7956
Contact Name Cheyenne Olson
Web and Social Media
Berea Urban Farm
At A Glance
IRS Ruling Year 2008
Other ways to donate, support, or volunteer
  • Donations: By major gifts that are unrestricted or restricted for special projects; through membership gifts renewable each year; through sponsorship of the Berea Victory Garden Blitz. Donations can be made by credit card, over the phone, by check or cash, through our website or with in-kind gifts. 

  • Support: Many people offer their services for workshops, seminars, and programs held both on the Berea Urban Farm and in locations across the community.

  • Volunteer: Our largest volunteer program is the Berea Victory Garden Blitz which involves more than 100 individuals from across the community each spring. People can volunteer on the Berea Urban Farm during the growing season and year-around in the office.

Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expenses - All Years
Expense Breakdown - Recent Year
Mission Statement
 Sustainable Berea's mission is: 
. To increase Berea's resilience by partnering with other groups and individuals
. To relocalize our economy and food systems
. To develop an engaged, skilled citizenry
Berea Urban Farm is a program of Sustainable Berea and its mission is:
. To build an educational market garden that grows food and educates the community
. To restore the land on a 1.4-acre farm that formerly housed dilapidated buildings on a partial brown lot
. To increase agri-tourism in Old Town Berea and to boost the local economy within the District
"Growing with our Neighbors" defines the  mission for the Berea Urban Agriculture District, an 82-acre area that serves 500 residents and 85+ small businesses.
Background Statement

In October 2005, 13 founding members of Sustainable Berea met at a local church to share concerns about climate change, population growth, environmental degradation, resource depletion, and rising national debt. Sustainable Berea received 501c3 status in 2006.

Sustainable Berea’s initial efforts focused on education through film series, workshops, speakers and special events. Meetings also focused on resiliency at the household and community level.

The Rain Barrel Festival in 2008 was a watershed event for Sustainable Berea. 127 rain barrels painted by members of the community were publicly auctioned, 15 local/regional organizations dealing with water conservation and management had booths to educate the 1500 people who attended, 175 retrofitted rain barrels were sold, and 250 orders made for people wanting the rain barrels.

In 2009, Sustainable Berea was designated by the Transition Network as the 13th official Transition Initiative in the United States and the 124th in the world.

In 2010, Sustainable Berea organized its second 100-Mile Potluck in partnership with the Berea Farmers Market.

In 2012, Sustainable Berea organized its first Neighborhood Food Feast with 17 neighborhoods participating.

In 2013, The City of Berea installed a solar farm and Sustainable Berea helped publicize, promote and celebrate those who purchased leases for the farm.

Sustainable Berea also collaborated with the City of Berea Tourism Commission to secure the land that would become the Berea Urban Farm, a 1.4-acre educational market garden in Old Town, Berea. Since then, the land has been improved and infrastructure created, including four high tunnels, a packing shed with a refrigerated unit, a heated greenhouse, two sheds, four beehives, a defined area for two ducks, a fruit tree orchard, a blueberry patch, an heirloom tomato and bean garden, more than 35 raised garden beds for vegetables and cut flowers (and perennials for pollinators), 17 rows of beds for intensive horticulture production, and a tiny library.

In 2016, Sustainable Berea conducted its 8th annual educational solar tour to showcase the solar installations around the city.

In 2015, the First Annual Berea Victory Garden Blitz saw more than 100 volunteers gather to build and install 180 raised garden beds throughout the city, primarily in low-income households. Subsequent Blitzes 2016-2018 added education and mentoring for new gardeners. At the end of 2018, more than 600 garden beds had been installed across the city/county.

The Neighborhood Perennials project started in 2016, provides fruit and nut trees and bushes along with training on their care to households, schools and other organizations throughout the city.

In 2018, Harvesting Hope, a job-skills program for women recovering from opioid addiction, was begun. It featured work on the Berea Urban Farm as a key element of the women's training.

Impact Statement
. Highly successful 5th annual Berea Victory Garden Blitz:  101 raised beds were installed through the Blitz to primarily low-income households. (total beds installed over 5 years is 612) 
.  Harvesting Hope: A Job Training Program for Women Recovering from Alcohol and Opioid Addiction. The program is supported by a USDA grant of $92,300 and 27 women will have graduated on August 9th, 2019. 
. Beekeeping program and BUF shares: Sustainable Berea added another 5 families to the group of 25 families who are beekeepers trained through our three-month program. Additionally, 20 families participate in our CSA known as the BUF shares where food is grown on the urban farm.
. Neighborhood Perennials Project: A grant of $50,000 over five years founded the NPP where people receive, free of charge, perennial trees, bushes, and plants for their yard. In its first year, 44 people participated and were trained as "tree guardians." 
. Educational Tours and Workshops/Programs on the Urban Farm: More than 640 people participated in various activities on the farm. This is a 73% increase over 2017.

Goals for the upcoming year:

       · Continuation of the Berea Victory Garden Blitz -- a signature program for Sustainable Berea involving more than 120 people.

       ·  Secure funding for another Harvesting Hope Job Training Program for the summer/growing season for alcoholics and opioid addicts in recovery.

       · Continue with the extremely popular Neighborhood Perennials Project.

       · Continue to streamline the tours, workshops, educational programs on the urban farm to better utilize our time and talents.

       · Develop and implement a robust volunteer program for Sustainable Berea projects and programs.

Needs Statement

Harvesting Hope job training program for opioid addicts, 2020 program. (Eight months, $85,000)

The largest volunteer project in the city -- the Berea Victory Garden Blitz April 2020, 6th annual event, managed in-house with contract workers hired as needed. More than 100 raised garden beds will be constructed by volunteers, installed in homes and filled with soil appropriate for raised bed gardening.  Money is raised to pay for the beds for those who cannot pay. There will be educational booths and workshops and free plants given to those who need them to start growing.  It is a 2-day event, $27,000 pays for the lumber and soil,  transportation for both, hardware, tools and equipment for volunteers, food, drinks for two days, transportation of beds, advertising and marketing, t-shirts for volunteers.

Berea Urban Farm: Salary for the Production Manager. 10-month position begins February 2020, $24,000

Volunteer Coordinator and Community Outreach, 11-months, begins 2020. ($24,000 for the first year)

Backyard Bees program: Provides scholarships for 5 families to pay for everything they need to get set up with bee production in their homes. ($8,000)

CEO/Executive Director Statement
Sustainable Berea has evolved over the last 13 years to become a significant force within the community. People wanting to move to Berea often call us for information and help; we are featured in the Richmond Register regularly, and the Executive Director is often asked to speak to civic groups and organizations.  We have shifted our programming to better serve the needs of the community and we have landed on the topic of sustainable living and food!  Throughout our entire history, people kept asking for more information and programming on growing food, finding good sources of local food, eating and sharing food. Thus, our raised beds programs (and the Victory Garden Blitz), our rain barrel and cookbook (local recipes) sales, and our magazine -- The AG Mag that is published twice a year -- all focus on local food production.  Our membership has expanded and our donations increased with this singular focus on food.  We know we are serving a need and we see the impact of our work on a daily basis as more people come to the farm to learn to grow their own.
Board Chair Statement As chair of the board, it is my privilege to work with this organization and to see its growth as it carves out special ways to serve the community.  It focuses on collaborations with other individuals and organizations which make Berea stronger.  Sustainable Berea works with the city government and with businesses in Berea and Richmond to address the needs of the citizenry in all areas that make homes, neighborhoods and the community more sustainable. 
Service Categories
Secondary Organization Category Food, Agriculture & Nutrition / Agricultural Programs
Tertiary Organization Category Environment / Environmental Education
Geographic Areas Served
Madison County
While the primary area served is Berea, about 20% of our paid membership is from those who live in surrounding counties and states. While the majority of our rain barrels are purchased locally, about 10% are purchased at the office and carted off by car or truck to locations as far away as Vermont, Chicago, Atlanta, and Missouri. During the Victory Garden Blitz, people order beds who live throughout Madison, Jackson, and Rockcastle Counties. 
Berea, Richmond, and Mt. Vernon   -- in that order -- is our primary service area 40403, 40475, 40456
Impact Questions
GoalsHelpWhat is the organization aiming to accomplish? This is the organization's ultimate goal for intended impact.

The differences we make to our community and especially those in need.

Sustainable Berea has worked in many areas of resiliency and sustainability over the 13 years we have been in service to our community. We have embraced alternative energy, created programs that focus on our local businesses, taught people about insulating their homes and learning to live more frugally.  In 2013, we leased a brown lot in the middle of town and began restoring the land and creating an urban farm where we could grow food and teach others to grow. Our farm has been wildly successful as we have seen the numbers of people growing food and developing native pollinator gardens increase four-fold.  Four years ago we could not get a single person to accept a fruit tree for free. This year, we have 47 people subscribed to the Native Perennial Project where free fruit and nut trees, bushes and vines are given away to people willing to take classes in “tree guardianship.” We also have worked with 30 families to create beekeepers (5 families per year) and we have a Community Supported AGriculture program that provides food weekly to 20 families.   We have classes and workshops that educate about nutrition and health and growing your own food. In the past 5 years, we have installed 623 raised beds -- mostly in the homes of low income households -- through the Berea Victory Garden Program. This year we initiated a job training program for opioid addicted women in recovery. We are proud that we continue to be flexible enough to respond to new problems faced by our community as they arise. We will strive to always be able to respond to needs of our community.  Building neighborhoods that are safe and friendly adds to the strength of the community and we have been told by many that we are leaders in that effort as well.


Goals for the upcoming year:

Continuation of the Berea Victory Garden Blitz -- a signature program for Sustainable Berea involving more than 120 volunteers to construct and install more than 100 raised beds primarily in homes of lower income families.

Secure funding for another Harvesting Hope Job Training Program for the summer/growing season for alcoholics and opioid addicts in recovery.

Continue with the extremely popular Neighborhood Perennials Project.

Continue to streamline the tours, workshops, educational programs on the urban farm to better utilize our time and serve people more efficiently. Levels of tours and classes will be instituted.

Develop and implement a robust volunteer program for Sustainable Berea projects and programs.

StrategiesHelpWhat are the organization's strategies for its stated long-term goals? Our strategies are based on securing and maintaining high quality programs we have already established and remaining open to new programs around local food systems and local businesses hat are needed in the community.  We know from experiences that something does not catch with the community until they see if happen for five years in a row.  The programs we mention are in place and we have determined to keep all of them AND add only one more -- the volunteer position. All the five areas are tested -- we know they are important to our community.  To continue offering important programs strengthens our strategic approach and keeps us from engaging in activities that are not in our focused areas.  Our strategies include communication by social media but we do much of our work on a face - to -  face level of communication and we work through presentations to churches, civic organizations, groups and clubs. 
CapabilitiesHelpWhat are the organization’s capabilities for doing this? What resources, capacities, and connections support its progress towards long-term goals?
We have many partnerships for our projects and we are always welcoming more support as people become interested in our work.  We have positive media coverage to thank for much of our success. We have a crew of volunteers who love the Blitz and work each year with it. We have support from many organizations in town devoted to sustainable practices and we work with them to enlarge our capacity to organize events for the community.  We have a creative and dedicated staff who work hard and believe in Sustainable Berea and for them, we are very grateful.  We have always believed that if we believe in our work and love our work, the money we need will follow. And, amazingly enough, that philosophy has worked to an amazing degree. We all believe we are serving our community well and that is our primary goal. What we do not know, we figure out or ask someone for help. We are dedicated and energized by how our community has changed in the last 15 years and we are happy to say, we have played a part in putting nutritious and healthy food on the agenda with improving neighborhoods and the community.
IndicatorsHelpHow will the organization know if it is making progress? What are the key qualitative and quantitative indicators against which the organization assesses its progress toward its intended impact?
The Harvesting Hope Job Training Program for alcoholic and opioid addicts is our most daring, challenging and important topic this year.  We will release our results at the final graduation on August 9.  So far, we are pleased and excited about the impact our program is having on addicts.
That we continue to have an overwhelming interest in raised bed gardening tells us we are filling a need in our community. This program will continue until it is no longer asked for by our town.
Our numbers tell us that we are doing well:
Numbers of donors in 2018:  173
Numbers of donors in 2017:  134
Total dollars raised in 2018:  $197,975  
Total dollars raised in 2017:  $108,005 
Volunteers in 2018:  176
Volunteers in 2017:  132 
People on the farm in 2018:  604
People on the farm in 2017:  378 
2018:  number of newspaper articles = 18; radio interviews = 7; TV coverage = 2; educational films on the farm = 3. public presentations = 17
Significant grants:  USDA - $92,300 and private individuals - $50,000.  People believe enough in our organization and our work to give us significant gifts of support for our work.
Sustainable Berea is more and more active on social media where we pay attention to comments and questions.  The qualitative feedback is matched against our numbers -- the quantitative measures. We also have hired people to do qualitative and quantitative assessments of the Harvesting Hope participants, the Victory Garden Blitz, and the NPP project. 
ProgressHelpWhat has and hasn’t been accomplished so far?

The one area that we have not been able to structure is that of a volunteer coordinator and community outreach person who would promote and organize volunteers and teachers on the farm. We find ourselves so busy with the daily operations of the farm that we do not have the staff person to do this task. We believe this is the one weakness that needs to be addressed.

Board Chair
Board Chair Richard Olson
Company Affiliation Retired Professor, Berea College
Term Mar 2006 to
Board Members
Ethan ConnellyKentucky State Labor CabinetVoting
Kara CrispinFntontier Nurses Program - studetVoting
Gene DanielsRetiredVoting
Lou DeLuca J.D.Retired attorneyVoting
Leslie FergusonMACED (Mountain Association for Community Economic Development)Voting
Beth MyersBerea City Government
Richard Olson PhDRetired professorVoting
Troy PriceAdvocay for ChildrenVoting
George Schloemer M.D.Berea Clinic of Internal Medicine
Maria WrightMigo Marketing
Board Demographics - Ethnicity. Add number
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 10
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 6
Female 4
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 85%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 10
CEO Comments
We have had interesting challenges to our selection of board members over the years.  We have discovered that it is important for people to believe in the fundamentals of our organization and embrace our concern with climate change, local food systems, species extinction, and economic fragility.  We believe the human species is just one of the many species that call the earth our home and all creatures should be cared for and respected. We also are passionate about restoring land that has been degraded and left in poor condition. We actively plant trees that bear food across our community and we teach others the importance of growing food. We are very interested in supporting our local economy and many of our activities are pointed in that direction. If a board member does not embrace this philosophy, he/she will not be as engaged as we need them to be in moving our organization forward.
CEO/Executive Director
Executive Director Cheyenne Olson PhD
Term Start Nov 2017

The ED has a Ph.D. in communications and marketing, has worked as a fundraiser in Australia and America, and has years of experience in the organization of large events. She has been associated with the organization since its beginning and is very well connected across Berea and into the region. As a former journalist, she understands the media and can speak easily to radio, TV, and newspapers about the work of Sustainable Berea. As a former college professor, she knows how to work with students and supervises the interns and college labor students. During the Blitz, a massive event that involves more than 120 volunteers annually, she often works with students from other colleges across the commonwealth who come for the experience. She is an avid gardener and an excellent cook and her house is often filled with people building a community about cooking and being on the urban farm that is next door to her house. The current ED was voted into the position by the board who up until that point had functioned as a board-organization without an ED. 

Co-CEO n/a
Experience n/a
Full Time Staff 4
Part Time Staff 1
Volunteers 170
Contractors 12
Retention Rate 75%
Management Reports to Board? Yes
Staff Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 0
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Staff Demographics - Gender
Male 2
Female 3
Unspecified 0
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
Description The Berea Urban Agriculture District, encompassing 82 acres of residential and commercial land use in the center of Berea Kentucky, encourages and supports the development of an integrated neighborhood food system. Food is grown on both private and public spaces; harvested and gleaned; sold, exchanged and donated; processed and stored; and shared at tables in restaurants and homes. Food and yard wastes are composted and used to build soil, and rainwater is collected for irrigation. Jobs are created, tourists and students come to see and learn, and the community is built around food.​
Description The Berea Urban Farm is a 1.4-acre educational market garden that grows food for the community, teaches others how to grow food, farms in a way that restores the land, creates jobs, and builds community.
Description Sustainable Berea has partnered with Liberty Place Recovery Center for Women in Richmond, KY to create a job training program that spans 2018 and 2019.  Twenty-six women recovering from alcohol and opioid addiction graduated from one of the  seven,  four-week classes where worked on the Berea Urban Farm,  and learned a variety of job-related skills. 
The program is primarily funded with a grant from the USDA and will run through the summer of 2019.  

Budget 85000
Category Employment, General/Other Job Training & Employment
Population Served Alcohol, Drug, Substance Abusers, Females, Adults
Program Short Term Success
Women taking this program are giving it rave reviews which encourages others in Liberty Place to know the value of job training.  As more addicts witness their peers working in this job training program, they are more likely to apply for the experience.  Because addicts have a history of believing they are worthless and can do nothing, this program not only builds self esteem, it actually teaches  skills necessary to secure and keep a job.
Program Long term Success
Our goal is that 50% of the women completing this program will remain sober for 2 years and be meaningfully employed either in or outside the home.  Women will be trained in business skills, self esteem, leadership, financial literacy, entrepreneurial activities.
Program Success Monitored By Our record keeping is meticulous and our research/assessments of every woman and every instructor help us to keep the program vibrant and fluid and appropriate for this population.
Examples of Program Success
So far, 11 women have graduated and left Liberty Place. Only two of them are back in substance abuse. One is in another treatment center and the other 8 are successfully employed.
Description The Neighborhood Perennials Project (NPP) supplies free (1) fruit trees (2) nut trees, (3) berry bushes, (4) perennial vegetable plants, and (5) pollinator-friendly perennial flowers for planting throughout Berea on private, public and institutional properties. We provide plants that are suited to Berea’s conditions and sourced from local and regional nurseries when possible. Most importantly, we provide training and ongoing support to project participants which are designed to create a "tree literate" citizenry that provides on-going care to trees, makes use of the fruits and nuts, and supports additional plantings of edible trees. Abundant fruit trees and other perennial food-bearing plants will make Berea more food-secure, healthier, and beautiful.
Description Berea Victory Garden Blitz is an annual event that involves more than 130 volunteers over a two-day time period who construct 3' X 5' raised garden beds out of true 2-inch white oak boards.  Those beds are then delivered and installed in people's yards across the community with an emphasis on low income homes where people do not have the means to get their own raised beds and soil.  Educational booths are included on the days of the Blitz and a community meal is held for the volunteers and bed owners.  We have carried out the Blitz for 5 years and 2020 will se our 56th Blitz in the county.  To say "there are people who normally would not mix"  is an understatement.  And it works!
Budget 29500
Category Community Development, General/Other Community Development, General/Other
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent, Adults, Families
Program Short Term Success
Building community through working together with all kinds of people from all walks of life
 Teaching college and high school students who to construct raised beds
Facilitating working and playing together with young and old, families and friends
Educating college students in the mechanicds of organizing a huge volunteer project in the community.
Program Long term Success
People will grow their own food and share it with neighbors to improve their health and that of their children
Growing food in the yard means neighborhoods will be safer as people get to know each other over food
612 raised beds have been installed through the Victory Garden Blitz in the past 5 years.   People generally start with one bed and more up to 2 - 8 beds to produce more of their own food
Program Success Monitored By Sustainable Berea keeps records on all beds that are purchased and installed. We also know who paid for the beds that were installed in low income family areas.  We acknowledge our donors each year with a 8-foot banner posted in three places across the community. 
Examples of Program Success
We see raised beds across our community
People start ordering raised beds in December -- interest remains high
Last year 93%of all beds sold went to low income houses.
People love the potluck where we hear stories from farmers about growing food
Plans & Policies
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers N/A
Management Succession Plan? Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy No
Whistleblower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
Revenue vs Expenses - All Years
Expense Breakdown - Recent Year
Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2019
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2019
Projected Revenue $160,000.00
Projected Expenses $150,000.00
Spending Policy N/A
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available). Revenue from foundations and corporations may be included in individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201820172016
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Individual Contributions$184,615$87,999$82,237
Investment Income, Net of Losses--$19$45
Membership Dues----$1,305
Special Events------
Revenue In-Kind------
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201820172016
Program Expense$120,854$53,448$40,842
Administration Expense$19,004$16,738$17,651
Fundraising Expense$1,913$2,216$5,092
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.401.491.43
Program Expense/Total Expenses85%74%64%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue------
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201820172016
Total Assets$186,294$140,931$104,134
Current Assets$119,921$71,309$85,372
Long-Term Liabilities$10,069$16,972$14,778
Current Liabilities------
Total Net Assets$176,225$123,959$88,356
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
CEO Comments Our work is educational and directed (in many cases) toward neighborhoods where crime is high and education is low.  People do not want to "notice or see" the poverty in Berea. They would rather define our community as wealthy, progressive, tidy, with a beautiful college and a reputation for housing every significant artist in the commonwealth.  While we are that, we are much more and people need to be safe in their homes and have good nutritious food for themselves and their families.  Much of our financial support comes from people and foundations who live outside the state.  This is particularly challenging because we never know who will continue to fund our programs and who will drop us from their lists.  The opioid epidemic is front and center for our entire county.  Families are torn apart while grandparents raise their children's children.  Over doses are frequent in this town which lead to the formation of Harvesting Hope, a job training program for women in recovery.  The program ran for more than a year and 26 women were graduated.  We are very proud of these women and pleased that Sustainable Berea could create a program where they worked on the Berea Urban Farm -- OUR farm -- to make a spiritual connection with the earth and learn skills that will help them in any career they pursue.  But, challenges are noted with people who do not want to see "those kinds of people in our town."  We have much work to do to educate those who do not see.
Address PO BOX 1302
BEREA, KY 404033302
Primary Phone 859 896-7956
CEO/Executive Director Cheyenne Olson PhD
Board Chair Richard Olson
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired Professor, Berea College