The Farm Stand Project
This Kickstarter is about building a farm stand on our small organic farm that will serve as a community space for our neighborhood. The goal is to create a cozy and welcoming "general store" atmosphere that promotes sustainable living, community interaction, and access to locally-grown food.
Although Simone and I live in an agriculturally rich area, sustainable and organic practices have not yet taken root here. Shopping center giants supply much of the nutrition and households bring home adulterated, nutrient-poor produce from far-flung places.
Here in western New Jersey, we live amongst thousands of acres of rich and scenic agricultural land. Yet cars zoom down our streets on their way to the mega supermarket and we all seem to interact less. Simone and I began to wonder...What is the impact of our current food structure- the big-box store mentality on our communities?
Being transplants from California and New York and both life-long travelers, we have experienced the many different ways that food can shape communities. So a plan was hatched to offer a fresh, chemical free, nutrient rich, and more locally grown alternative in our neighborhood. A real "grass roots" small-scale and very localized effort was about to take off.
And our project began. Simone and I first researched the old world European village ovens and marveled at the way that the village community oven brought people together. We began baking our own leavened bread to share with friends. This gave us ideas about the possibilities in our community. We were inspired!
In 2013, we planted a 120 tree heirloom fruit orchard and began growing organic produce on a neighboring field. We joined the Northeast Organic Farming Association and attended conferences to meet with experts on organic farming techniques. We planted cover crops, added organic matter, and began rejuvenating the corn-exhausted soil. After much preparation, we began selling our produce to neighbors and local restaurants last spring.
The early results indicate that our ideas are taking root. We have received positive feedback from the local watershed association and "River Friendly Farms" program due to our focus on using sustainable and organic farming practices in our watershed.
A local tavern owner visits weekly to pick up produce and promotes our farm on his menu. Cars now slow down to see what is happening on the farm. Some visitors stop and take pictures of our vibrant tulip bed in the spring. Others have even volunteered to pick their own produce from our fields.
Neighbors are, in fact, meeting neighbors at the farm. We have made many new friends over discussions of growing fruits and vegetables. A few secret recipes and preserves have even been shared. One indication of our early success are the notes dropped in our "honors system" money box. Our favorite reads...
"Thank you farmer! We appreciate fresh wholesome food in our neighborhood."
"Nice to see no pesticides used next to our beautiful river! Thank you for taking care."
Now in our third year since planting our first fruit tree, we are looking to further develop the community concept by building a cozy farm stand to welcome our visitors and properly protect and display our produce.
The costs associated with this project are substantial. To meet local building codes, preliminary work includes creating a driveway and parking area, constructing a foundation, and connecting electricity to the farm stand.
For the building itself, we are sketching out a design that will be open and light filled. And because of our underlying community-oriented goal, it must create the "sense of space" that we envision for our farm.
The itemized budget for this project follows:
- gravel drive and parking lot construction: $3,000
- building foundation: $1,500
- electrical connection: $1,500
- building materials and construction: $18,000
- refrigeration/display case: $ 1,000
Total funding goal: $25,000
And what happens if your support for this project generates funds beyond our goal? We plan to use additional funds towards building out the interior and adding an outside deck to host Farm to Table dinners and workshops.
Now this is where you come in. In the true village spirit, we believe that the broader Kickstarter community will see the value in our work and offer support in raising this farm stand. Thank you for taking your time to consider supporting our project.
Eddie and Simone
Risks and challenges
We have come a long way in the first three years of developing the farm and understand that there will always be challenges to overcome. After all, this is farming at its heart.
To ensure our success, we leverage our strengths by utilizing past experience, developing a niche market, making continual improvements on the farm, and by networking with farming organizations and local businesses.
Although The Old Millpond Farm is in its infancy, we are not newcomers to this business. I began my first small farming project in the wine region of California during the 1990's long before "farm to table" became a cliche'. I took an artisan approach to my farming and connected with chefs in the area. Inspiration came from a lifelong interest in gardening and the organic movement, my passion for food and cooking, and a background in science and ecology. Now 20 years later, this artisan style and emphasis on quality and ecology still guide the direction of The Old Millpond Farm.
Have you ever tasted ground cherries, shishito peppers or purslane? How about a crisp Calville Blanc apple? These are only a few of the specialty, organically grown crops that we proudly grow. And by growing our plants using natural processes, we create a healthy and diverse ecosystem that is lacking on conventional farms. Our produce is packed with nutrients and is remarkable in taste, texture, color and aroma. And it is good for you too! This specialized approach creates a niche market that will always be in demand. This is our specialty.
The farm still has much room to grow and we are in an exciting stage of development. This year, we are installing two moveable greenhouses that will extend our harvest season. An irrigation system will be added to the berry patch and orchard to regulate water use improve flavor. We are also very excited about the changes that will come about when our young fruit orchard starts bearing apples, peaches, pears, apricots and plums in the very near future. And did I mention that we are building a beautiful community-oriented farm stand too?
Networking and Support:
We have learned that farming is a community supported venture and a wide variety of organizations is helping us to grow and learn as farmers. The organizations that have been especially supportive of our work are listed below:
NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association)
NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service)
River Friendly Farm Certification- North Jersey Resource Conservation and Development.
Lebanon Township Community Green Team
The Glen Gardener Inn
The Ryland Inn
Basil Bandwagon Natural Market
Finally, no building proposal would be complete without the support of the local township zoning department. We contacted our township zoning officer who explained the township requirements for building our farm stand. These guidelines were discussed with a surveyor and engineer and we have submitted the proposal accordingly.
The planning is done and the groundwork is laid. The next big obstacle is to secure the funding to begin this Farm Stand Project. We look forward to your support.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)