How I Will Use the Kickstarter Funds
The fundraising goal of $7,000 reflects how much money is needed to install a water line (frost-free hydrant) on the farm: the cost estimate from the plumber is $6,465, and the remaining amount will be needed to pay fees to Kickstarter and Amazon. Although I am going to make it a priority to conserve water as much as possible by using rain catchment, hugelkultur beds, mulching and cover crops, the water line will be necessary for washing harvest containers and utensils on-site, washing produce once it is harvested, and for irrigating the crops during moments of prolonged heat and drought.
Additionally, as a start-up farm, HSF will need tools, seed-starting equipment, seeds, harvest crates, building materials for a tool shed and distribution station, and money for permits. Although I will make use of as much scrap and free material as possible, any money (and old tools, etc) that you choose to donate to the farm over the $7000 goal will be put to good use building up farm infrastructure.
Gift Economy CSA
I'm excited to offer the food grown on the farm through a gift economy CSA! The land for the farm was gifted to me, and I want the farm itself to embody that spirit of generosity.
CSA stands for community-supported agriculture program, in which a community of people (CSA members) agree to support a farm financially, while the farm in turn provides the members with seasonal fruits and vegetables. The members know their farm and farmer, and the farmer knows who he is feeding and what his members needs are.
The gift economy version of a CSA means that, each week, the farm offers a certain number of harvest shares, filled with seasonal diverse produce, as a gift, and members choose how they want to reciprocate, in consideration of how much they can afford, how much they want to support me and the farm, and how much they appreciate the quality of the food. I hope that this will both allow people with limited means to receive produce from the farm and allow those with higher incomes to support me and my work financially. In addition, people can choose to express their gratitude for the food in non-monetary ways: through helping out at the farm, giving return gifts of goods or services, or paying it forward to someone else.
The farm will offer a variety of membership/payment structures based on members' individual needs, including the option to commit to a whole season or to decide week-to-week, and the option to pay in a lump sum at the beginning of the season or on a weekly basis.
Growing a Diversity of Food
The plan for this hyper-local urban farm is to intensively grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on a formerly vacant quarter acre city lot. Crops will range from tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, and lettuce to cooking greens like collards and chard, to Asian varieties like bok choy and tatsoi. I will also plant perennials: crops that live for longer than one year but take longer to mature, like fruit trees (peach, persimmon), berry brambles (raspberries, blackberries), grapes, asparagus, and strawberries. In addition, I hope to grow mushrooms on the shady part of the farm and keep bees.
Sustainable Farming Practices
The farm's growing practices will be as sustainable as possible and incorporate principles of permaculture design, which emphasizes building up soil life, plant biodiversity, water conservation and holistic analysis, so that any farm "waste" is reused back on the farm. I will not use synthetic chemicals as pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, and I will make use of organic waste items found in the city: cardboard, city compost, coffee grounds, scrap wood, etc.
Connection to Community
The farm's relationship to the surrounding community is very important to me. I look forward to chatting with neighbors as they walk by, and I anticipate both learning from neighbors about growing food and offering what knowledge I have to those who are curious. I'm encouraged by the other community gardens and farms in the area and want to collaborate further with those garden leaders and farmers.
Providing Meaningful Work
My goal is to be able to support myself financially through growing food for people. In the future, I plan to find a few farming partners to run the farm with me as a partnership or farmer-owned cooperative and to hire summer interns or season-long apprentices. I'd also like to team up with the high school down the street and offer field trips or garden-based education programs.
Special thanks to Brittany Accardi for producing the video, Andrew Miller for designing the logo, Paula Suda and Carrie Tanner for filming the interview, my friends and family that helped on the first two farm work days, the superhero bike riders that served on the farm, and the St. Louis urban farmers who have gone before me.
Credits for the music used in the video:
"Drops of H2O ( The Filtered Water Treatment )" by J.Lang (feat. Airtone) http://ccmixter.org/files/djlang59/37792 is licensed under a Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Risks and challenges
The potential risks in starting an urban farm include all the risks inherent in farming, including extreme weather, disease, pests, and soil infertility. To mitigate these risks, I plan on drawing on my experience from past farms where I’ve apprenticed and asking for advice from farmer friends and local resources such as MOBOT and Lincoln University Extension to ensure that my growing practices create a healthy, resilient farm ecosystem.
Choosing to use the gift economy model carries the risk that I will not be able to support myself financially from farm income alone. However, if I don’t earn enough to support myself from what people are willing to give, I intend to work a part-time job to make ends meet and reevaluate the farm’s marketing model in the future. For me, the most important achievement will be providing delicious food to those who appreciate it.
In an urban setting, farms must comply with regulations that frequently weren’t created with urban agriculture in mind and live in harmony with more neighbors than farms in rural settings. To that end, I plan on doing my homework and engaging in dialogue with city officials to ensure that my farm functions within existing city code. In addition, by living down the street from the farm, I can more easily get to know my neighbors and maintain a consistent presence on the farm to deter potential vandalism.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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