Originally published in the Monadnock Shopper News
We’re wrapping up another inspiring year of supporting locally owned businesses and community groups through The Local Crowd (TLC) Monadnock. TLC Monadnock, a community-based crowdfunding program, helped four crowdfunding campaign teams raise $32,960 from 285 supporters in 2019, bringing our totals to eighteen teams raising over $126,000 since launching in 2017.
Always looking to reflect on our progress while planning for the future, we reached out to past crowdfunding campaign leaders to check in and catch up.
Cheshire Garden, a small family farm in Winchester, grows heirloom fruits and herbs that they turn into amazing jams, mustards and other products. One of my favorites, Frosty Fruit Pops! Farmer Patti Powers brings her popsicles to events like the Farmers’ Market of Keene and Winchester Pickle Festival.
Before her crowdfunding campaign, Patti used a portable freezer that ran off her car battery to keep her pops cool. Or she had to hunt down an open electrical socket, something in short supply at many outdoor festivals. She wanted a more reliable and environmentally sustainable way to keep things chill. Enter TLC Monadnock! Patti raised over $2,000 from 41 supporters to buy a portable generator and the solar panels to charge it.
Patti found that the solar-powered generator could be used in other useful ways on her farm. “We don’t actually have a lawn, but we do mow between all the garden beds and bought a battery-powered lawnmower this summer,” Patti shared. “Now we can charge that battery with the solar generator and do all that mowing with no gasoline. And even in winter, the solar-powered generator helps us heat Tiny Pie House, our little farm store, by powering a small electric heater.”
Marty Castriotta of Village Roots Permaculture Farm raised over $11,000 from 104 supporters to raise a barn in June 2018. This month, he will finish preparing the barn’s siding with high school students from the LEAF Charter School in Alstead. They use a method of waterproofing the local pine siding by burning and oiling it, a practice inspired by Shou Sugi Ban from Japan. Keene State College interns will help install the siding. This spring, they will add a shed roof over the cow loafing area and construct a walk-in cooler.
“In permaculture design, the ethics of the design are considered, including that of Careful Process,” shared Marty. “We started our barn in 2013 and each step has been weighed and considered in relation to the overall benefit for the community, the environment, animal welfare and the local food network we serve.”
In 2018, The New Hampshire Bee Initiative was launched by Melissa Stephenson and Kin Schilling to raise awareness about the plight of all pollinators. Their first action was joining The Good of the Hive, a global initiative inspired by artist Matthew Willey’s commitment to hand paint 50,000 individual honey bees on murals and installations around the world. The Town of Peterborough offered up the Community Center’s wall for Matt to use.
Since establishing and celebrating the mural (see highlights!), Melissa and Kin continue their outreach. They made Mason bee houses with the kids at Camp Best two years in a row, gave a talk at Fitchburg State and took observation hives to farmers’ markets and schools.
Archway Farm in Keene, one of the first campaigns to launch on TLC Monadnock, used crowdfunding to purchase a food truck. Farmer Mark Florenz travels to various community events with this truck, introducing his pasture-raised pork to new people throughout our region.
“We did three smaller events this year partnering with the Monadnock Food Co-op, Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition, and Picadilly Farm,” shared Mark. “We really enjoy the smaller events as they give us a good chance to get out and talk with a lot of our customers. We also were at the Dublin Gas Engine Meet for our one larger event. I anticipate a similar mix of events for 2020.”
Fresh off the rush of running their crowdfunding campaigns this fall, the progress for these projects is still unfolding! But here are some quick updates -- more to come in 2020.
Noah Elbers and Cara Campbell raised over $14,500 from 120 supporters to purchase a New American Stone Mill for Orchard Hill Breadworks in East Alstead. They expect their mill to arrive sometime this month.
“It will likely take us a few months of experimenting to figure out what changes we need to make to our process and formulas in order to accommodate milling and incorporate the new flours, as well as settle on consistent and good sources of grain,” said Cara. “So, it will likely be April or so before we are able to have it in our breads on a regular basis.”
Kat Wood and Aaron Shields raised over $2,500 to support individuals in recovery by providing scholarships to attend regular yoga classes at Mudita Massage & Wellness based in Keene. If you know someone who might be interested in one of these scholarships, find details at mudita.live/yoga-for-recovery-scholarships.
“The whole experience from planning, to rolling out, to finishing successfully in meeting our goal was valuable for us and allowed for people in our community to contribute in a positive way that they believe in,” shared Kat. “Crowdfunding is the perfect example of the ‘do what you can, where you are, with what you have’ mentality to create change.”
Mary Ewell and John Kondos from Monadnock Sustainability Network raised over $10,800 to help bring an electric vehicle fast charger to the Monadnock Food Co-op in Keene. These funds will meet the Volkswagon Restitution grant match requirement when they apply in late January.
“By adding fast charging, we establish Keene as an oasis in the NH EV charging desert,” said John. “A fast charger can provide 80-100% charging for electric vehicles, while parked at the co-op, in under 30 minutes… These fast chargers will change the EV landscape in the Monadnock Region, and let visitors and residents alike know in Keene the future has arrived.”
In the new year, watch for crowdfunding campaigns from The Cornucopia Project, Food Connects, Keene Housing Kids Collaborative and maybe one from your favorite business? Our next Request for Proposals is open and we invite emerging and established businesses based in the Monadnock Region, state of New Hampshire or Vermont to submit project proposals. Learn more! All proposals are due before 5:00 p.m. on January 17, 2020.
Thanks to all our campaign teams and the community that supports them -- together, we’re The Local Crowd!
The Local Crowd Monadnock - Mailing Address: 63 Emerald St. #114, Keene, NH 03431