In 2007 I moved to what was my grandparents farm and purchased the land from my family. Acres of land on a hilltop, surrounded on three sides by woods, just fifteen minutes from the city... In my eyes it was perfect. It was also a bit of a hot mess. Dilapidated buildings, falling down structures, and the accumulation of seventy years of junk (along with quite a few gems). Among all that I saw so much beauty and potential, and immediately started getting to work.
Over the past seven years we've torn down or rehabbed those old buildings, worked on the soil with tons and tons of compost and cover crops. Added infrastructure. Planted berries, fruit trees and other perennial crops. Built a beautiful outdoor dining space for our farm dinner series and educational events & workshops. Built a new barn for our animals. Started the greenhouse.
All this was accomplished without credit cards, lines of credit or bank loans. During the first few years I held on to my full time job at the library while running the farm, then took on multiple part time jobs - all with the goal of making this small organic farm work and doing so more efficiently and sustainably. I was driven by my passion and wouldn't let anything stop me.
The time has come to ask for financial help. And that is where all you lovely people come in.
What you’re funding:
- Irrigation systems and pumps, electricity to our barn, greenhouse, and outdoor dining space. Excavation, foundation and block work for the greenhouse foundation (all including materials & labor): $9,500
How it will help the farm: Funny story.... Irrigation is a pretty important part of farming. After seven years of dragging about 450 feet of hose around the farm from field to field, I decided that mess needed to stop (I'm confident that I can now break speed records for hose repair, and practically do it in my sleep). Irrigation lines and pumps allow us to water our fields efficiently with drip irrigation, and bring water directly to the barn year-round for our goats, chickens, ducks and guinea hens. It may surprise you to know that when the hoses freeze in the winter, hauling five-gallon buckets of sloshing water to the barn multiple times a day is neither pleasant or efficient.
We had nearly as many extension cords running all over the farm as we did hoses. Blowing and replacing fuses on a practically daily basis was another neat challenge. Electricity to the barn means the animals can have heat lamps when necessary, and heaters to keep their water from freezing which is essential. It's also kinda nice to be able to see in there at night.
What you’re funding:
- Labor & materials to finish greenhouse foundation, door, plumbing, electric, walkways: $6,995
- Greenhouse structure (including frame, polycarb covering, heater, fans, blowers, thermostat): $12,948.91
How it will help the farm: Everything that is grown at Churchview Farm is started by seed, whether that’s out in the field or indoors, beginning in February and cycling through the season. This has been accomplished with racks and racks of shelving, hanging grow lights and homemade heat mats using strands of holiday lights between foil (it was janky but functional). I don’t have much space in my small farmhouse, so all this was done in my parents' basement and at friends houses all over the city. Surprisingly, my lovely supportive family & friends look forward to not having soil and fish emulsion tracked all over their homes. (weird, right?) Another shocker - that process was not incredibly efficient, as seedlings need daily maintenance.
The greenhouse will not only allow me to start all seedlings efficiently right here onsite, but it will also enable us to grow crops year-round for our chefs & restaurants, and give us a space hold winter classes and workshops.
What you’re funding:
- Outdoor kitchen structure (materials & labor): $3,100
How it will help the farm: Our farm dinner series is one of the aspects of this business that make it sustainable and allow us to do, grow, educate and raise animals in the ways I firmly believe it should be done, while also providing a place for the community to experience a small farm. Ask any chef who has cooked a farm dinner at Churchview... What they have been able to pull off under tents (six course meals, and in one case, ten courses) in sometimes blinding wind and rain storms is astounding.
At one point this season the kitchen tent was held together by duct tape, a giant pitchfork, and about 42 zip ties. It wasn’t a good scene. This new structure will not only give the chefs and staff a better place to work, it will provide a space to have more food-centered events and educational opportunities.
I’m so proud to say that this farm is very much a community effort. Family, friends, and scores of volunteers (many of whom are now practically family) play an integral part in making the farm what it is. As a female-run operation it has become a space where women in particular come to work, learn and feel empowered. Watching others become as enchanted and fulfilled by this place as I am has been an amazing thing to experience. I’m grateful for it every day.
Video by Michael Maraden. Photos by Charlie Casamo.
Risks and challenges
Over the past eight years I’ve learned, by trial and error (sometimes, very expensive error) how to do things the right way. The most cost efficient way. When to hire out, when to do it myself. Who to hire, what companies and individuals to work with, what and who to avoid. It was a crash-course and I continue to learn more every day.
Weather happens, unexpected costs happen, deadlines change, projects fluctuate. This Kickstarter project, the goals and funding, is the result of months of research, gathering estimates, talking to contractors and suppliers, and starting work on the projects themselves.
So, yes, there are always risks. I am as sure as anyone can be that when the funding is secured, aside from the onset of the Rapture or Zombie Apocalypse, these projects will happen to completion. I hope you can visit the farm to see it for yourselves.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)