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We built a community farm and are creating a better future. Growing food and empowering a generation of environmental leaders.
We built a community farm and are creating a better future. Growing food and empowering a generation of environmental leaders.
123 backers pledged $11,860 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$11,860

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We need your help!

We are building a movement for collective action to create a future that is sustainable for our children and grandchildren and we need YOU to make it happen!

We are MEVO (Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization, Inc.) - a  youth led environmental not-for-profit organization based in Northern New Jersey.

We are led entirely by unpaid youth volunteers, high school, college, and graduate students, as well as adults with a young spirit.

We are building a two acre, community/educational farm, the first of its kind in New Jersey. Please volunteer, donate, and SHARE this kickstarter video with your friends, family, and community.


The Farm

MEVO's two acre community farm at Campgaw Mountain Reservation in Mahwah, New Jersey is the first of it's kind in Northern New Jersey. Managed by a part-time farm manager and an army of volunteers, the farm will work within and throughout the community to grow a larger environmental movement in the region. The mission of the farm is to provide educational organic farming programs, opportunities for creative sustainability innovation, and to inspire a value for growing nutritious organic produce to Northern New Jersey residents.

This community farm is focused on being an innovator and thought leader for environmental sustainability and we believe it has a huge opportunity to go above and beyond similar farms of its kind. The farm is innovative in several ways. Its primary focus is education rather than producing food. It is extremely accessible to Northern New Jersey residents. It will be operating on a community level within and throughout Northern New Jersey. It will inspire a direct connection between community members and local farmers.  And it will serve as a creative space for sustainability innovation in many forms.  

What does all that mean? The farm, like MEVO, aims to inspire a larger movement for environmental sustainability throughout the suburbs and a greater care for the quality of food people are eating. The farm will be open to all types of people, all ages, from anywhere! We will offer educational field trips to students from Kindergarten to Graduate level, opportunities for visitors from abroad to stay at the farm and work, volunteers days and educational programs for people with disabilities and developmental delay, as well as handicap accessible farming for people who are in wheelchairs. This community farm is focused on being a community effort and the more people involved in collectively growing this project the greater the impact will be.

Our vision is to create a future that is sustainable and better for future generations. This farm will be the seed that will grow the forest of social change and achieve our vision. 

Changing the culture of society is hard work and we can't do it by ourselves - we need partnerships, allies, and, most importantly, people. With this in mind MEVO's farm is focused on being as collaborative as possible. In addition to farming on site, we will continue to partner with local schools by building gardens and farms on their campuses. We will offer educational workshops for community members to learn how to farm at their homes and we will help them install gardens and hives at their private residences. We will also be partnering with local farmers whose families have been growing food for hundreds of years and have them advise and support our farm's mission. We have countless not-for-profit, for-profit, government, and many other organizations donating and partnering with MEVO to really make this farm a "community" effort and use this space to bring people together around our collective values of sustainability.

What is MEVO (Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization)?

  • We are a youth led environmental not-for-profit organization in Northern New Jersey.
  • Founded in July of 2008
  • Led entirely by high school, college, and graduate students as well as young spirited adults.
  • Carrying out volunteer initiatives in Northern New Jersey and Lower New York since 2008.
  • Mobilizing over 2,500 volunteers to carry out over 23,000 hours of service.
  • We plan a lot of volunteer events
  • Giving out free recycling bins and rain barrels
  • Building hiking trails and restoring soil erosion
  • Teaching about sustainability in schools
  • Planting trees, community organizing, and more.
  • We clean-up illegal pollution in Northern New Jersey.
  • Our biggest partner for this work is Ramapough Lunaape Nation an indigenous community in Northern, NJ.
  • We work with them to remove illegal dumping on Stag Hill in Mahwah, New Jersey.
  • 2013 we removed over 100,000 lbs (50 tons) of waste
  • 2014 over 4000 tires removed. All with volunteers.

We have already started.

We have the land. We have the hands. We have already taken soil samples of the property and have started obtaining donations of compost, tools, storage containers, wheel barrels, and more.

We are planning on breaking ground this fall and starting the basic excavation of the site this month.

The farm programs:

Educational Field Trips for people of all ages to learn about sustainable agriculture and how to grow their own food with our methods.

Horticultural/Garden Therapy for children in abuse shelters, pediatric hospice, and foster homes. In addition, we hope to lead several summer camps for these groups to come out and experience the farm.

Volunteer opportunities for people with disabilities and developmental delay.

Handicap Accessible Workdays for people who are in wheelchairs to be able to volunteer and help grow a bounty of produce.

Lectures, presentations, and roundtable discussions at the lodge on environmental sustainability and social change strategies. 

Workshops offering hands-on intensive educational opportunities for people to learn basic farm skills. Crop rotation, beekeeping, mushroom growing, orchard management, etc.

Building Gardens - MEVO already builds gardens for both not-for-profits and schools and donates these gardens to these groups for their own programs. We will continue to do this with the schools that visit the farm.

Educational Classroom Visits - During the farm season we will be visiting classrooms to teach about the work on our farm and invite students to visit.

Summer Camping / Farm Camp- Countless rustic campsites surround the farm which will be used by high school students throughout the summer for several farm camps. These youth will stay over at these camp sites hiking, farming, learning about sustainability during the day and hanging out at night.  

Apprentice Farmers and Internships- Every summer MEVO has a crew of interns that work for MEVO's farms learning the basics of sustainable farming. There will be a huge intern crew this summer helping to manage all the work on the two acre farm.


The Long Term Plan? To Change the World.

MEVO's mission is to be the model for the creation of scalable ecological solutions that inspire and empower people to take action for a better future.

Our vision for this farm is that it becomes the model for how to establish a truly sustainable community farm between government and not-for-profit organizations.

Our organization has been recognized nationally and locally. It is our vision to grow this farm's impact to an ever bigger level.

Eric and MEVO being declared New Jersey Heroes by First Lady Mary Pat Christie
Eric and MEVO being declared New Jersey Heroes by First Lady Mary Pat Christie

Our Team

MEVO has thousands of volunteers working every single day to create a sustainable world. The people below are some of the dedicated environmental volunteers making this farm possible.

David Nicholson - Director of Communications

David (nicholson.d@mevoearth.org), a veteran volunteer, is responsible for MEVO’s e-mails and MEVO’s various social media channels. He also contributes to the written content of the MEVO website. David has completed wilderness first aid training, was inspired to start beekeeping thanks to MEVO’s Farm to Live program, and has hiked the local state parks of Northern New Jersey with family and friends. Currently, David is a student at Northeastern University in Boston, with a major in Business Administration along with an Environmental Studies minor. David enjoys strength training with kettlebells, beekeeping, improvisational theater, reading books of all kinds, and the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. His plans for the future are to pursue a path that helps make the world a better place.

Isaac Rozenberg - Farm Designer and Builder

Isaac (Isaacr@mevoearth.org) is currently designing and building the Bergen County Educational Farm with his brother, Josh Rozenberg. Isaac is also pursuing degrees in both Biochemistry and French at SUNY Stony Brook on Long Island. He lives in Morristown, NJ and enjoys rock climbing, skiing, hiking, traveling, and gardening. Isaac has a deep interest in mycology (the study of fungus and mushrooms). He farms using permaculture design principles and grows edible and medicinal mushrooms. Isaac hopes to see MEVO grow and continue to make a positive impact on our local communities.

Josh Rozenberg - Farm Designer and Builder

Josh (joshr@mevoearth.org) is one of MEVO’s farm designers and builders. His job is to plan, design, and build the spaces that we use for farming. He began working with MEVO as a volunteer in summer 2013 and has been involved with the Bergen County Educational Farm project since January 2014. He is Interested in sustainability, especially in the fields of permaculture, land use, green building, agriculture, and development. He served 3 years in the NJ Army National Guard and is currently studying Geography at Rutgers University.

 Pamela Gilligan - Farm Crew Leader

Pam (pamelag@mevoearth.org) is a student at Ramapo College and pursuing a major in Environmental Studies. This past Summer of 2014 Pamela worked for MEVO as a Farm Crew Intern where she was able to get a hands on experience as a farmer and learn a significant amount about beekeeping and community involvement. She is currently MEVO’s Farm Crew Leader for the Fall of 2014. From a young age she has been one with the environment, developing a green thumb while working in her yard and participating in activities to spread environmental awareness. She was active in many 4-H volunteer clubs throughout high school. In these clubs she cleaned rivers and streets, maintained nature trails, planted trees, and did a wide assortment of other environmental projects. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, reading, yoga, aromatherapy, and baking.

Eric J. Fuchs-Stengel - Executive Director / Farm Manager

 
Eric (ericjfs@mevoearth.org / 2013164888) is the Executive Director and Founder of MEVO. He has recently graduated from the New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study majoring in Environmental Sustainability and Social Change with a minor in Environmental Studies. He has worked for many environmental organizations such as City Growers, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, Greenpeace, AmeriCorps, and the Energy Action Coalition. In addition, to his full time role at MEVO, he is also the full time Outreach Coordinator for the Rockland Conservation & Service Corps a program of the Rockland County Government Youth Bureau. He has worked internationally, in the summer of 2011, Eric went to the Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayan Mountains and studied eastern Himalayan forests and rural livelihoods with the School for Field Studies. Among the many honors Eric has received for his work thus far, in 2014 he was declared a “New Jersey Hero,” by New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie; he is the 29th New Jersey Hero to date. That same year he was also awarded the National Jefferson Award for Public Service, “The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefiting Local Communities.” The Jefferson Award is positioned as the, “Nobel Prize for Public Service,” and is considered the nation’s highest honor for community service; Eric is one of only two hundred people in the world since 1974 to receive this award.

We have two acres of land.

Our land is donated by the government! The County of Bergen has generously donated two acres of farmland at Campgaw Mountain Reservation in Mahwah, New Jersey. After many meetings and discussions the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders and County Executive Kathleen Donovan approved the farm to be built.

  • The County of Bergen is the best partner to have
  • To change society requires having the government involved in creating that change.
  • We have a vision for a future that is environmentally sustainable and to make that future come true you need to have all systems in society participating in creating that vision.
  • Our farm is located on land owned by the government and it is supported by for-profit, not-for-profit, and many other organizations.
  • Government support shows that creating a sustainable community farm is needed, important, and possible anywhere.
  • We are creating a model that can be replicated anywhere in the country.
  • The land is leased for five years with renewal of the lease at the end of the five years.
We have a well for groundwater on site. We have no water bill.

 We have camping bathrooms with showers on site so we can stay squeaky clean. We can connect into these bathrooms for electricity. We have no electric bill.

 We have the Mountain Side Lodge 

A 1970's era ski lodge. This building has been waiting for a productive use since the closure of the tobogganing hill in this section of the park years ago. We will be using the lodge for our barn, workshop, community center, meeting place, and on-farm environmental education center.

The lodge has a HUGE stone fire place with two fire pits inside. We have already thrown some awesome events here.

Risks and challenges

What are our biggest challenges?

1. Hiring our first paid Farm Manager
SOLUTION: MEVO is working everyday to find donations from corporate partners to support hiring a Farm Manager full-time to be paid to manage the farm. Our Executive Director, Eric will be the Farm Manager for the farm's first two years of operation. We have already received donations from SHARP Electronics, Rockland Electric, United Water, and others to support this cost.

2. Building the farm this spring
SOLUTION: We are mobilizing a small army of thousands of volunteers to support building the farm this spring. We have acquired commitments of donations for the use of trucks, machinery, and tractors to prepare the farm for cultivation.

3. Developing a sustainable business model
SOLUTION: MEVO's Board of Directors and farm designers are developing value-added products which our farm can sell to support our operations. Fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, honey, salsa, sauces, beeswax, mushroom dowels, seeds, hot sauce, dried herbs, spices, teas, as well as educational program fees will support the farm after the initial start up cost.

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Support

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    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    CONTRIBUTOR-- You will be listed as an awesome contributor on our website www.mevoearth.org. If you send us your photo we will include it next to your name.

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    MUSHROOMS FOR ALL-- You will receive a pint jar of inoculated Mushroom Dowels that you can use to grow Shitake or Blue Oyster mushrooms. We will include an instructional booklet on how to use these dowels to grow mushrooms.

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    FARMING FOR YOU PLUS ONE-- Come out to the farm with a friend and take a free, one hour educational farm tour. Learning about everything from beekeeping and composting to planting and sustainability.

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    THE CLASSIC-- Donate and receive an awesome organic cotton MEVO T-shirt. This is a great deal because you are normally required to come to three volunteer events before receiving this most epic piece of swag.

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    CANDLES-- You will receive two hand dipped beeswax candles made at home by our Farm Designer Josh Rozenberg. These will be some of the many products MEVO will sell once the farm is built.

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    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    HONEY-- You will receive a half pint (8 ounce) jar of delicious-golden-goodness MEVO Honey. You will also receive a personal note from the beekeeper who worked together with the bees to produce the Honey. If you like raw, unprocessed, straight from the hive Honey then this opportunity is to good to pass up.

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    Pledge US$ 65 or more About US$ 65

    RAIN BARREL- You will receive a MEVO Rain barrel, including a spout, filter screen, barrel, and overflow valve. In addition, these up-cycled barrels are sporting the MEVO logo. Catch rain, water your garden, and reduce erosion from storm water run off. You need to be local for this one - they are far too big to ship.

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    BEEKEEPING-- Interested in being a beekeeper? Spend a two hour private workshop with one of our beekeepers learning about the basics of beekeeping. You will get to try honey, put on a bee suit and inspect a hive, as well as see the queen bee and much more!

    You will also receive the CONTRIBUTOR level reward.

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    MUSHROOM GROWING-- Curious about how to grow edible mushrooms at home? Spend a two hour workshop with our mushroom farmers learning the basics of mushroom growing. You will inoculate logs, learn about mushroom spawn, and taste some freshly grown mushrooms. A crash course on all you need to know to start growing mushrooms at home.

    You will also receive the CONTRIBUTOR level reward.

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    Pledge US$ 200 or more About US$ 200

    RAISED BED IN YOUR HONOR-- We will name a raised bed in honor of you for your glorious donation. A sign will be displayed next to the bed saying, "Contributed by *Your Name*" with the date of your donation. We will send you a few photos over the course of the season with what is growing in your raised bed.

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    BEE HIVE IN YOUR HONOR-- We will name a bee hive in honor of you for your glorious donation. A sign will be displayed next to the hive saying, "Contributed by *Your Name*" with the date of your donation. We will send you a few photos over the course of the season showing you how your bees are doing!!!

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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    AN EAR FOR SOCIAL CHANGE-- Eric J. Fuchs-Stengel, our Executive Director and Founder is considered a leader in the environmental sustainability field. He is contacted constantly by people who want to change the world or who are passionate about environmental issues. You will have the opportunity to meet with Eric in person or on Skype to discuss your plans for social change and receive direct hands-on help with your idea. In addition, you receive ALL OF THE REWARDS ABOVE.

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    ROCKING PARTY-- We throw some awesome parties at the MEVO Lodge on our farm. We will throw a totally raging woods party for you, your friends, and family in your honor. We will also bring tons of volunteers, board members, and MEVO supporters to the party to celebrate your HUGE contribution. Expect music, tons of delicious food, a warm fire, and great conversation. In addition, you receive ALL OF THE REWARDS ABOVE.

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Funding period

- (35 days)