Posts Tagged ‘research’

Soil, soil, soil!

With temperatures in Ithaca rising into the 50s, spring feels like it’s right around the corner. In actual fact, we’re still deep in February, and it might well snow on Friday. But the heat still makes me imagine the coming warm months, when the ground will thaw and the become ready for planting.

With that in mind, I’ve started searching for information on our soil and the wonderful plants we can grow in it. Reading a great local blog, Living in Dryden, I found a handy map produced by the town of Dryden which roughly classifies soils and floodplains in the area. According to the map, we’ve got either Class I or II type soil, which they consider the best for agriculture. Excellent news!

I dug deeper and went to the Web Soil Survey from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. This is a really great resource which lets you look up soil information for just about anywhere in the United States. And most of the information is current, which may not be true about paper soil maps. In our region the map is from 2006.

After tinkering with the interface, I came up with a map like the one below. It shows roads and the boundaries of different soil types. It also has a nice legend which helps you figure out what you’re looking at, and lets you pick a point and grab information about it. In the small area I chose there were just 6000 acres with 35 different soil types!

websoilsurvey_result (more…)

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I started my day out with one very important question: How does one start a nonprofit?

I’ve worked for a variety of nonprofits over the years & my left leaning politics have often favored employment searches on Idealist.org rather than Monster.com. But despite my years of working between the walls of non-profits, I had never acquired any knowledge in reference to what steps are necessary for a group of well meaning folks to establish nonprofit status.

Here’s the deal–there are many different kinds of nonprofits. If you want to incorporate your nonprofit you need to:

1) Establish your organization by filing articles of incorporation with appropriate agencies of your state (usually the secretary of state).

2) Create a Board of Directors.

3) Secure federal income tax exemption by filing the appropriate forms with the IRS. The IRS has a FAQ about applying for tax-exemption.

This step would benefit greatly from some legal assistance! You can search for a pro bono or reduced-cost legal services that specialize in assisting new & emerging non-profits. Some pro bono organizations that Matroyshka’s Garden might want to check out are:

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts-offers volunteer legal services to arts organizations and individual artists nationwide.

Corporate Pro Bono-allows us to create a listing for our nonprofit which can then be searched & viewed by lawyers who are looking for volunteer opportunities.

Lawyers Alliance for New York-offers free legal assistance to qualified nonprofit organizations in New York City.

4) In order for to procure & file the appropriate forms you might want to contact your state’s charity registration office (in New York that would be: Secretary of State information for Charitable Organizations). This would be important if you wanted to file for tax-deductible status (aka for donations to be tax deductible). Legal assistance is suggested with this as well.

5) It usually takes 4-6 months to go through the process of becoming a non-profit.

I also stumbled upon a free basic training course offered through the Foundation Center, which I will be attending on Monday, January 28th. This course is offered in New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Cleveland & Washington DC (registration is required): Before You Seek a Grant: A Checklist for New Nonprofits

Something that has become abundantly clear is that a mission statement is definitely needed. If you intend to go forward with seeking nonprofit status (or even if you don’t!), having a clear & concise document which encompasses your hopes & goals for your organization. This will also give you a reference point for future problems or conflicts. At this leg of the journey, your mission statement should be short & to the point–basically you want to outline why your nonprofit should exist.

As if this entry didn’t look all link-happy enough, here are some links that were helpful to me:

The Foundation Center FAQ

5 Tips & A Warning

Where to Start When Creating a Nonprofit

Starting a Nonprofit Organization

On the drawing board– What exactly is a Board of Directors: Who, What, Where & Why?

Happy nonprofiting!

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