Almost two years after moving into the same building to increase collaboration, the New Haven Land Trust and New Haven Farms will officially merge as one nonprofit starting next year.
The upcoming merger, which will take place on Jan. 1, has been a plan in the making for many years, according to Jacqueline Maisonpierre, executive director of New Haven Farms. The New Haven Farms is a local nonprofit organization that works to promote health and community development through urban agriculture initiatives. In February of 2018, New Haven Farms and the New Haven Land Trust — which specializes in land conservation, community gardening and environmental education — moved into the same office space and began speaking with a consultant in the spring about combining. Maisonpierre said she has been a big advocate of the idea of combining the two groups and added that she has been encouraged by the unified support from both organizations’ boards.
“I’m excited to see how our programs can grow together and compliment each other,” Maisonpierre said. “It’s been great to see how much trust there has been going into the process.”
Gregg Davis, the interim executive director of the New Haven Land Trust, was hired in March to fill the absence of former director and mayor-elect Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10. He has been spearheading efforts to merge the two nonprofits. Davis said the merger would be a good idea as the groups will be able to save on administrative costs and have greater opportunity to develop independent revenue streams, which makes up only 10 percent of both groups’ revenue currently.
According to Davis, the merger is expected to be an effective way for both groups to expand their programming.
“The values of the two organizations are really closely aligned,” Davis said. “And the most successful mergers are always the ones that have a prior, actual relationship.”
Tyra Pendergrass, board chair of the New Haven Land Trust, said that rather than having to cut staff to consolidate the two groups, the merger will allow the two organizations to create new positions for hire. She also noted that there is a staff representative on the merger committee to ensure that each viewpoint is heard.
Maisonpierre, Davis and Pendergrass all said one of the biggest challenges for the merger will be finding an executive director for the new group. Despite their search having officially begun only a few days ago, Davis said it is the most pressing thing on his mind. Yet Pendergrass is confident that once this problem is resolved, the merger will prove to be the best course of action for both organizations.
“The people we are trying to reach and the people we are reaching — there’s a lot of overlap with that,” Pendergrass said. “In a time where nonprofits are trying to find ways to stay relevant and viable when funds may be drying up, we really will be much stronger together.”
Pendergrass added she is especially excited to see how the new organization will become more innovative and impactful. While both groups already have many programs aimed at connecting people with the environment, the merger will allow them to do it to an even greater extent, she said.
In an interview with the News, Abigail Grimes ’22 said she has witnessed the meaningful impact these groups leave on New Haven. She served as a leader this summer during Yale’s FOCUS on New Haven pre-orientation program and worked with her group at the New Haven Land Trust.
She added that the merger will allow both organizations to expand their meaningful work.
“These organizations are really good at creating spaces that everyone cares about,” Grimes told the News. “I think they’re super sensitive to the community’s needs — if the merger is still going to preserve the community-centric view, then it has to be a good thing.”
According to The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the New Haven Land Trust and New Haven Farms are among 1,898 registered nonprofits serving the New Haven area.
Thomas Birmingham | firstname.lastname@example.org