For nearly ten years, Growing Hope has been helping people improve their lives and communities through improved access to fresh fruits and veggies. From after-school nutrition & garden programs to training people for community garden leadership to managing an urban farmers market, Growing Hope is always formulating new ways to inspire, educate, and empower communities-- starting in our home in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and radiating out from there.
For the past four years, we’ve installed 170 above-ground, raised-bed vegetable gardens with low and no-income families at their homes, enabling people with limited financial means to grow fresh produce. This year, for the first time ever, we will be offering similar garden installation services for pay available to the general public, as well as a selection of garden-goods from seedlings to raised bed kits and more. This kickstarter project will will allow us to make a fundamental shift in how we and most nonprofits run, by generating sustainable revenue to help our community grow, without being dependent on sources like grants.
Why You Should Support Us
There are many reasons to support Growing Hope on Kickstarter. Here are some of the best: (And note: Because we're a 501c3 nonprofit, your pledge is tax deductible, minus the value of the reward you get-- we'll send you the documentation once the campaign is over.)
- The sales of garden goods and services will allow us to provide similar services-- garden installations, supplies, and support-- to those in our community who can’t afford to pay. That for us is social enterprise at its best.
- We are making food gardening an accessible idea for everyone, with products and support designed to ensure each gardener’s success. No one makes a better advocate for fresh, local food than the gardener who eats his/her own produce, and shares leftovers with friends and neighbors.
- We’re shifting our model so that we can actually sustain and grow our impact. By launching this social enterprise (still housed within our 501c3 nonprofit), we develop an ongoing revenue model to bring in income for more and more families to grow.
- When we’ve tried and refined our business model, we’ll share the basics of it with other communities or organizations, in the hopes that backyard gardens, and the wonderful veggies grown in them, will return to being the norm in every neighborhood, like they were only a few generations ago. The impact will spread as the revenue model succeeds in more and more places.
In order to make our business cost-effective and sustainable, we’re going to convert a diesel pickup truck to run on waste vegetable oil, and seek out some local storage and shop space for supplies. Service and delivery-based businesses are hard to be profitable because of the rising fuel costs, so this strategy is another part of our formula for success. That’s where you come in. Your money will help us take a waste product from unhealthy food produced right here in our community, and use it to deliver the tools people need to grow their own healthy food.
What You're Funding
We’re not asking for general business start up support; we have some seed funding that's supporting staffing, marketing, and some infrastructure. It doesn't get us all the way, though. We need $20,000 of support for several key things to get us growing this spring:
1) Support the truck conversion and build out the waste-veggie-oil filtering and storage systems. There isn't a local facility filtering oil for direct grease vehicle use right now, so we've got to invest in setting it up ourselves... The potential impact may be beyond our enterprise-- hopefully it will pave the way for others who want to have grease vehicles to have a system and source for fuel in our community.
2) Install veggie gardens for free with 20 low-income families. Because we’re focusing on long-term enterprise planning, we don’t have grant funding for the low-income families we want to help grow this spring. As we get our revenue streams flowing, we need help supporting these families before our enterprise is fully off the ground.
3) Build 40 more grow light stands and seed starter kits, to be adopted by 100 households in our Seed Starting Squad, who grow more than 8000 seedlings for us! We’ve had to up our scale of this operation to meet the needs in our business plan.
With a spring 2013 launch, we can show our supporters that this kickstarter investment has quantifiable results within just a few months!
Risks and challenges
We know that the conversion of a large pick up-- that will be hauling heavy stuff (compost weighs a lot)-- into a grease vehicle is going to bring with it a learning curve. We've been consulting with some grease vehicle experts in Michigan and Pennsylvania about this, and they're helping us make sure to pick the right truck to buy. We're doing this kickstarter in part because our original business plan didn't take into account the level of pre-filtering needed for a larger ton vehicle, and we may have underbudgeted for initial maintenance costs, especially while we're still in our learning curve. We realize that this will take time to set up and a learning curve with its maintenance, so we're purchasing the truck in March, but will spend a few months running it on diesel before converting it, to make sure we have our grease process and systems fully up and running. We're excited to have engaged a few grease experts as key advisors and know that will be crucial to help us get over any humps.
Also, we also have to build up our supply of used grease, and know that many restaurants are in contracts with grease haulers; we feel like our strong relationships and reputation in the local food world will help convince owners to switch to giving us our grease, but we know that figuring out the exact amount we'll need, adequate storage, etc will take time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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