Recently a friend of mine ran a pretty successful crowdfunding campaign to help secure a startup loan for her and her partners farm. I had heard of Kiva before (socially focused micro loans) but this was the first time I actually checked the organization out.
Crowd-sourcing has it’s detractors. For a while there it seemed like kickstarter was set to be the worlds largest purveyors of ‘knick-knacks with a purpose’. But given barriers to finance, they actually can be useful tools. It takes town and a community to grow food and it makes sense to have communities and people directly invested in the success of farms and businesses in their regions.
Kiva has a fairly simple concept and for folks that want to go around traditional forms of debt, ie banks, this could be another option. The part of this organization that makes the most sense is that there is 0% interest. Even though I am not a financial specialist, I can state pretty unequivocally that’s a pretty good percent rate for interest! It’s also a unique way to get community buy in for your farm without having to secure 1000 individual small contributions (and the paperwork and legalities that would entail).
Other social, agriculture, and community related crowd financing platforms exist as well. The slow money movement’s Beetcoin is a good example.
So, if you have been looking into different financing to help get things off the ground take a second to look into this organizations and some of the other successful small farms that have used the tool for funding their projects.
If there is one thing that we’d like to spotlight these days, it’s change makers and organizations that are doing really great and innovative work across the country. Enter: Ecologistics, a nonprofit organization based in the Central Coast of California whose mission is to “To create a resilient and healthy community for the residents of the California Central Coast that is environmentally and economically sustainable.” If that sounds boring or generic to you, it’s not.
First of all, we think everyone could use an introduction (or refresher course) on their value of deep ecology, which is squarely pitted against “shallow ecology” or environmentalism that is based solely on anthropocentric human survivalism.
Secondly, we’d love to see more “activist incubation” programs pop up around the country. Ecologistics has fiscal scholarships available for activists and visionaries who would like to implement progressive projects without filing for their own 501(c)(3)s. The company is able to act as an umbrella agency so that small projects can receive grants that are required to go to tax-exempt entities– acting as an intermediary that can support small groups and independent ideas.
How do we go about starting farms? Some of the main barriers new farmers face are access to training, access to land, access to funding. We’ve definitely noticed that in the last 10 years there has certainly been an increase in training opportunities, from more farms offering better employment, institutions offering curriculum around sustainable ag, and organizations, with as similar mandate to ours, helping connect budding agrarians.
But land access and funding remain serious challenges. While farmers continue to create novel approaches to financing their operations (CSA’s, community borrowing) we clearly need more recognition and support from the financial industry to help get new farms off the ground. (more…)
Any Greenhorns out there with advice on funding & other financial matters for start-up Greenhorns?
My name is Nic Koontz and I am working towards starting a small farm of my own in the northern Colorado front range area, near Ft. Collins. I have been a follower of yours since I heard about your project from a friend whom farms in Georgia (Serenbee Farms). I think what you are doing is great and energizing and i read it whenever I can just to convince myself that I am not the only young person crazy enough to do this.