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A local small farm CSA in Virginia wants to renovate two large chicken coops into high tunnels that will grow year round organic food.
A local small farm CSA in Virginia wants to renovate two large chicken coops into high tunnels that will grow year round organic food.
A local small farm CSA in Virginia wants to renovate two large chicken coops into high tunnels that will grow year round organic food.
197 backers pledged $10,385 to help bring this project to life.

About

Vegetable Farmer upcycles & transforms a Tyson chicken farm! project video thumbnail
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Vegetable Farmer upcycles & transforms a Tyson chicken farm!

$10,385

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I just recently finished my first year in small scale commercial farming. I really need your pledge so I can morph this large old chicken coop into a year round bio-intensive organic growing facility! 

Also, another way you can back my farm is by becoming a CSA member-subscriber if you live in the Powhatan, Midlothian, Bon Air, or South Richmond area. You can get 10% off the 24 week price by choosing this reward here on the kickstarter! Or sign up to receive a fresh box of veggies every two weeks or monthly. 

Learn more about my CSA at VAfarmer.com

- More pictures & info about me below rewards - 

9 Totally Awesome Rewards!!!

If you pledge $40 or more I will send you some girl scout cookies too!

Note to backer: I will send out a survey to choose t-shirt/wine glass holder/wine bottle stoppers/vegetable deliveries/lunches when kickstarter is 100% funded.

Reward #1 A personal thank you mailed with an awesome sticker to support your local farms wherever you live throughout the world. Mailed to anywhere in the world!

Reward #2 - One Mixed box of freshly harvested veggies, herbs, and micro greens to be picked up in Powhatan, Midlothian, Bon Air, or South Richmond. Available this summer June-July. 20% off the regular price!

Reward #3 - Folk Art Farm refrigerator magnets & Your favorite t-shirt! My big Sister's Folk Art she drew for me. Buy a tee and help support my farm and her son getting more violin lessons he wants! You are backing two people in one! (I will send out a survey for you to choose one at end of campaign) Available to USA, Canada, & Europe

  • Tee #1 Farmer Paul - Support Local Farmers
  • Tee #2 Cat on a farm tractor
  • Tee #3 Woman looking at sky
  • Tee #4 Woman w/veggie box
  • Tee #5 Woman w/chicken
  • Tee #6 Man w/bird on his arm

Reward #4 Get lunch on the farm and enjoy the country fresh air. Fresh organically grown salad will be provided with fresh cut herbs, micro greens, and sweet tea. We are only 45 minutes west of Richmond straight west Route 60 (Midlothian Tpke). It's well worth the drive and you'll get a farm tour too! Available to anyone in Virginia.

Reward #5 Wine Glass Holder or Wine Bottle Stopper. Custom made by local Richmond woodworkers Shai & his father. Help them be successful too! They are great guys and weren't successful with their kickstarter so lets change that now by backing them with my campaign to back us both!! Available to USA, Canada, & Europe

Reward #6 Lunch on the farm + Folk Art Farm Tee of your choice + refrigerator magnets! Only 100 spots. Back this quick! Save $10! Available to Virginians.

Reward #7 Custom made Wine glass board holder + Wine Bottle Stopper + Tee of your choice!!! Support two local businesses with this back! Available to USA, Canada, & Europe

Reward #8 - (1) Summer Produce Box of veggies, herbs, micro greens, and flowers! Must be in the surrounding Richmond city limits, South Richmond, Bon Air, Midlothian, Powhatan area. PLUS it's delivered to your home by Farmer Paul with a personal thank you!!!!!!! I'm offering FARM PICKUP & Delivery available to Local Richmond / Bon Air / Midlothian / Powhatan.

Reward #9 - So you want to name a goat or hen? This is for you. I will take a wonderful picture of your goat or hen and autograph it with an inspirational message delivered to your home. You can also name a fruit tree in your honor. You will also get an awesome sticker and surprise package in the mail. Available to anyone in the world.

Reward #10 - (3) Fresh produce boxes of vegetables delivered over the summer with seasonal vegetables, greens, micro greens, herbs, and flowers! Home deliveries throughout the summer in June, July, & August. You will also get the Virginia Woodworkers Wine Glass Board, Wine Bottle Stopper, Farmer Paul Tee, Sticker, & folk art magnets! I'm offering FARM PICKUP & Delivery available to local Richmond / Bon Air / Midlothian / Powhatan.

Reward #11 - 24 weeks of fresh produce from my community supported agriculture (CSA) farm! Pick up at a location in Powhatan, Midlothian, Bon Air, or South Richmond from May - October 2015. This is 10% off the regular price!!! Only on kickstarter

STRETCH GOALS!

If more than 500 people back my campaign I am going to give everyone farmer temporary tattoos I created!!!

Farmer Paul's Story Continued

On December 13th, 2014 I turned 34. I thought I had my entire life planned out when I was 19, but things don't always go as planned. I finished my masters degree, but the economy was bad. Then I found myself filling out hundreds of job applications without any real interviews.

I started delivering pizzas for Papa Johns Pizza. I have probably worked for every major pizza franchise over the years as extra income when going to school. I find people that work in fast food are some of the hardest working and likeable characters I've ever met. 

As a farmer you need this same work ethic and positive attitude even when under a lot of stress and your responsibilities are stacked against your favor. It takes a certain type of crazy personality and it's obvious that I have it and own it. 

During the summer and fall of 2014, before I started my own farm on the 1.5 acres I lease, I was volunteering at numerous innovative small farms plus going to small farm conferences. All of this was very inspiring and the farmers I met were very passionate about what they did every day and felt great about it. I have some really great farming mentors that see what I'm doing and think it's awesome.

Me with VSU Farmer Cliff Slade at the Farmer Outreach 43,560 Project
Me with VSU Farmer Cliff Slade at the Farmer Outreach 43,560 Project

I made the decision to make it happen!

In January 2014, I started my small farm leasing some converted high tunnel space from one of the original chicken coops that use to house 20,000 Tyson chickens! It became the Virginia Vegetable Company. I wanted to become an innovative small farm that would bring new approaches, research, and personal support to new and old farmers across Virginia.

Commercial Chicken Coop recycled into a High Tunnel Nursery
Commercial Chicken Coop recycled into a High Tunnel Nursery

I negotiated my lease to come with 1 acre. My landlord a very friendly and supportive retired chicken farmer and his family in Powhatan have been extremely supportive. All I want to do is follow through and show him I can do it and stick around. His previous tenants that helped renovate half of the old chicken coops grew the most beautiful flowers, but went out of business quickly when they couldn't find a buyer.  

It was really as simple as that to make up my mind to become a farmer in the year 2014. I found favorable farming terms and I didn't have much else to lose except filling out a few hundred more job applications a week if it didn't work out. I know I didn't have years of agricultural experience except backyard gardening but I'm a quick learner. I was just a beginning new young farmer during the weekdays and by 5:00 PM an over-educated under-employed delivery driver excited to start growing his first transplants and experiment with growing micro greens!

(Micro greens are small but packed with nutrients for your diet!)

Finished my night shift. Got my first supplies. I'm ready to become a farmer!
Finished my night shift. Got my first supplies. I'm ready to become a farmer!
Practicing grow seedling in warmed 1020 trays during the winter
Practicing grow seedling in warmed 1020 trays during the winter

My big vision of renovating the old chicken coops had to start immediately. The roofs slowly started to come off and the trash cleaning began.

Cleaning up all the trash to prepare for high tunnel renovation
Cleaning up all the trash to prepare for high tunnel renovation

I built throughout 2014 hydroponic, aquaponic, and raised beds. 

ZipGrow Vertical Hydroponic Towers growing mixed leafy greens
ZipGrow Vertical Hydroponic Towers growing mixed leafy greens
Mixed lettuce growing in DWC hydroponic beds
Mixed lettuce growing in DWC hydroponic beds
Delicious Rainbow Swiss Chard growing in DWC hydroponic raft system
Delicious Rainbow Swiss Chard growing in DWC hydroponic raft system
Super raised beds experimenting with composted chicken manure. Awesome results! and a lot of weeds!
Super raised beds experimenting with composted chicken manure. Awesome results! and a lot of weeds!
16ft high heirloom tomato plants grow in my own $1 DIY dutch bucket method! Thanks Youtube user MHPgardner for the inspiration!
16ft high heirloom tomato plants grow in my own $1 DIY dutch bucket method! Thanks Youtube user MHPgardner for the inspiration!
Radish & Mustard Micro Greens
Radish & Mustard Micro Greens
My green wall of fresh herbs growing in ZipGrow Towers to shade my Coolbot Cooler.
My green wall of fresh herbs growing in ZipGrow Towers to shade my Coolbot Cooler.

By June 2014 I attended Farmer's Markets.

At the Powhatan Farmer's Market & my sister stops by for support
At the Powhatan Farmer's Market & my sister stops by for support

 August 2014 - October 2014 I sold tomatoes to Manakintowne Specialty Growers for top local restaurant chefs.

             
End of the season heirloom green tomatoes for Manakintowne Specialty Growers
End of the season heirloom green tomatoes for Manakintowne Specialty Growers

By September 2014 I grew enough food for 10 families that supported my CSA (community supported agriculture). After running the CSA, I found this was exactly what I wanted to do. Growing food for local families in nearby neighborhoods with home delivery was a great fit for me.

My Powhatan farm sign. Fresh Produce Home Delivered! It worked!
My Powhatan farm sign. Fresh Produce Home Delivered! It worked!
Early fall delivery to some of my first CSA customers with fresh cut flowers! How exciting!
Early fall delivery to some of my first CSA customers with fresh cut flowers! How exciting!
Mini neighborhood farmer's market in Forest Hill by yours truly Farmer Paul!
Mini neighborhood farmer's market in Forest Hill by yours truly Farmer Paul!
Up close and personal. Fresh cut flowers, heirloom tomatoes, and more!
Up close and personal. Fresh cut flowers, heirloom tomatoes, and more!
Thanksgiving delivery with Turkey themed holiday cookies I baked
Thanksgiving delivery with Turkey themed holiday cookies I baked
End of the season CSA deliveries packed in my car and ready to be gobbled up!
End of the season CSA deliveries packed in my car and ready to be gobbled up!

During all of 2014 I farmed seven days a week and delivered pizzas no less than 4 nights a week. 

It was exhausting but I never thought of quitting. I was empowered by little successes and customers really enjoyed my high quality organically grown produce leaving me "thank you notes" inside my returned totes.

A big help to get me through my first year came from my volunteers. Whether they helped for 1 hour or throughout the entire year on many projects it made a big impact. 

Thanks Jerome, Bo, Charley, Michael, Joe, Gigi, Sergio, Mom, Dad, and especially Cliff! Also Chandler's Nursery & all of the Virginia State University specialists that came out to my farm.

Me and my Mom & Dad in the very beginning
Me and my Mom & Dad in the very beginning
Me, Brandon, and Joe after shoveling a ton of rocks to clear a spot for a large DWC growing area.
Me, Brandon, and Joe after shoveling a ton of rocks to clear a spot for a large DWC growing area.
My Mom watering plants
My Mom watering plants
Gigi helping me prepare some dutch buckets for tomato plants
Gigi helping me prepare some dutch buckets for tomato plants
Chandler's Nursery for advice and partnering with me to provide the most beautiful plants
Chandler's Nursery for advice and partnering with me to provide the most beautiful plants
                                            
VSU Aquaculture & Hydroponic Specialists Dr. Nerrie and Mr. Mullins
VSU Aquaculture & Hydroponic Specialists Dr. Nerrie and Mr. Mullins
My handyman Michael always making the perfect cut.
My handyman Michael always making the perfect cut.
Volunteer BBQ with me, Charley, & Cliff
Volunteer BBQ with me, Charley, & Cliff

I need your support and so does my local community of supporters.

As a very small farmer I don't financially have the funds to renovate and recycle these huge chicken coops into year round growing space. But, with your support, I can. 

All funds are going directly to improving the structures, material costs, labor costs, and equipment to grow just enough for up to 100 families a year. 

Although I don't own the land or structures I do have a 10 year farm lease which is renewable. Most farmers these days can not afford land and leasing is much more affordable. Strategically leasing has been a great option as a small start-up lowering BIG entry level financial barriers to start farming commercially.

Moving forward, I plan that by 2016, I will bring Richmond living organic herbs and mixed greens using ZipGrow Tower technology to sell in grocery stores, restaurants, and mobile farm stands. I think this project is a great opportunity to support your local farmer less than 30 miles from a fantastic city to provide access to healthy organically grown foods. My big vision doesn't stop here because this is just the beginning of my small farm. I plan to do some pretty innovative new things in the local small farm movement.

By backing me you are also backing local artists and woodworkers in RVA! I didn't want to make this kickstarter all about me, but instead collaborate with others to support one another. So remember when you are supporting my project you are also supporting other local businesses and artists as well.

Converted high tunnel, summer RV farm home, and new delivery truck shut down for the winter time
Converted high tunnel, summer RV farm home, and new delivery truck shut down for the winter time

Risks and challenges

As a farmer I have to deal with many risks, but because I have gotten through my first year I have a better chance for success.

However, frost, drought, flooding, wind, bugs, bugs, bugs, birds, deer, weeds, weeds, weeds! My hoe is my #1 tool on my slower days giving my plants room to breath and eat.

Farming is a commitment and I'm committed. For around 8 months out of the year I work 7 days a week 12 hours a day and it doesn't stop there. My goal with this kickstarter is to lower farm expenses so I can hire local workers, instead of relying entirely on volunteers.

By funding this project you help remove financial barriers that are preventing me from moving forward. If this kickstarter project is successful you are investing in local organic produce and creating a sustainable business.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    A personal thank you card and sweet 3X3 inch die cut sticker to put wherever you want! No matter where you live in the world you can show your support for local farmers! $10 goes a long way in farming! ALL backers will get this awesome sticker because we want you to support your local farmers! (view sticker at bottom of story)

    $10 can buy plant transplants, small tree, fruit bush, farm tool, a hen, a rabbit, bags of ice for harvesting, ex.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $29 or more About $29

    Mixed box of 8-12 organically grown fresh local veggies, herbs, and micro greens! Pick up in Powhatan, Midlothian, or South Richmond this summer.

    20% off my regular price!!! Only on kickstarter!

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    6 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Virginia Vegetable Company t-shirts by local artists Monica & Arthur!
    Choose #1-#6 when backing.
    All are standard large size.

    PLUS PLUS PLUS+++

    ALSO get 5 original folk art farm magnets drawn by local artist and my big sister Monica. (images on shirts)

    What a super deal!

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    16 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Lunch with Farmer Paul in Powhatan, VA. Unique outdoors lunch experience with organically grown lettuce mix, micro greens, seasonal vegetables, homemade croutons, salad dressings, and country sweet tea too! Everyone gets our sweet sticker too!

    Only 100 spots so sign you and your friends up quickly! July or earlier.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Wine Glass Holder or Wine Bottle Stopper. By local Richmond woodworkers Shai & his father. Help them be successful too! They are great guys and weren't successful with their kickstarter so lets change that now by backing them with my campaign to back us both!! (See wine glass holder / bottle stopper images in Story section)

    Choose a wine glass board holder or a wine bottle stopper.

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    Limited 19 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Lunch on the farm + Folk Art Farm Tee of your choice #1-#6 + refrigerator magnets!
    Only 100 spots. Back this quick! Save $10! (View t-shirt images in story section)

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    Wine glass board holder + Wine Bottle Stopper + Tee of your choice!!! Support two local businesses with this back! (See images in Story section)

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    Limited 4 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    (1) Summer Box of veggies, herbs, micro greens, and flowers!
    (Only for Local RVA Residents)

    PLUS it's delivered to your home by Farmer Paul with a personal thank you!!!!!!!

    Must be in the surrounding Richmond city limits, South Richmond, Bon Air, Midlothian, Powhatan area.

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    Limited 6 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    Name a goat or a bunch of hens! We want to offer a truly free range and humanely friendly environment. This will also go towards starting our first goats, chickens, hens, and fruit trees. Give a farm animal a loving home and a vegetarian diet.

    Plus a surprise package with lots of surprises to make you smile as a thank you!

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    6 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    (3) Seasonal Boxes of vegetables, herbs, micro greens, & flowers.

    Plus you will also get delivered to your home a sweet basket of rewards: Wine glass board holder, wine bottle stopper, and tee of your choice.

    This is ridiculous! Why stop there! I'll also include 5 refrigerator folk art magnets!

    Must be local to Richmond.
    Richmond City limits, South Richmond, Forest Hill, Bon Air, Midlothian, & Powhatan
    Delivery to your home on planned date that will be announced. Thanks for your support!

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $756 or more About $756

    If you truly love local then support me by become a member of my CSA. You will get
    24 weeks of produce from late May to mid-October!!! This will make you an official CSA member of my farm. Includes a t-shirt & sticker! Pick up in Powhatan, Midlothian, and South Richmond. Show your support!

    You are getting 10 percent off the regular price!!!!!

    For Powhatan, Midlothian, & South Richmond residents. (local south-west Richmond, VA)

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Funding period

- (30 days)