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Kickstarting Community

Although we raised $39,000 and gained 600 backers, ultimately we did not reach our goal in our initial attempt at crowdfunding, with our “Barns Are For People, Too” Kickstarter campaign. The purpose of our Kickstarter campaign was to raise money for repairs on the barns on the farm and to install stairs, lighting, and safety features so that we can safely and warmly welcome larger groups on the farm to learn, grow and connect.  While building community was the desired outcome of our Kickstarter campaign, community building naturally developed in interesting ways simply by working on the campaign.

Strengthening Connections Between the Farm Staff and Learning Center Crew

Over the past several weeks, various members of the Learning Center team met with Farmer John, Haidy and other farm staff in the old dairy barn to work on the campaign.  Members of our Chicago staff joined us in person or by phone.  We would begin with dinner and lively conversations in the black and white checked kitchen in the barn.  Then we would get to work on the campaign.  Haidy showered the room with bubbles and cheers rung out with each pledge that we received.  We encouraged each other and shared ideas of how to promote the campaign.  There was a sense that we were a part of a much larger community as we sat together and reached out to others via phone calls, social media and email.  Through this campaign, we have learned about one another over the shared meals, work and laughter. Although the Farm and Learning Center are separate organizations, through this campaign we became one.

Developing Connections with Other Organic Farms and Local Foods Organizations

Through the course of the campaign, we have reached out to many organizations that we have partnered with or been associated with in the past.  In our efforts to share the campaign with more people, we have developed new relationships with others who are working in the field of eco-agriculture, local foods and sustainability.  It was inspiring to hear about all of the important work being done to promote healthy food and farming and share our stories in kind!

Deepened Connections with Friends and Family

Although our place of work is no real news to most of our friends and family, many of our personal connections became more familiar with the farm and Learning Center’s work through our crowdfunding campaign.  In many ways, it deepened our families’ appreciation for this sacred place and opened up meaningful conversations with our love ones about our work.  Many of us came back to the farm kitchen table with interesting things we learned or shared by reaching out to our friends and family. 

Rooted Connection with the Farm Itself

 In addition to all the community connections that were forged, many of the people found that their commitment to and love for the farm itself was fortified through this work.  Sharing our love of the farm through stories and pictures with others helped remind us of how special the farm – fields, friends, animals, soil and buildings – are to all of us that are blessed to work here. 

What about the Future of the Barns?

One way or another, we will work to preserve these beautiful barn spaces and continue to welcome community here.  We’ll make it happen.  Farmer John explains, “That is what farmers do.”  We still need your help in this community effort – a virtual barn-raising.  Whether or not you pledged to the Kickstarter campaign, we hope that you will consider giving now by clicking here.  We appreciate your tax-deductible donation!