New Community Farm Coming

Submitted by Nastinia Bailey on February 26, 2013 - 8:25pm
Planting seeds starting this Spring

I have a wonderful friend who is full of ideas. A couple years ago she not only had a good idea, she organized a couple gatherings to talk about what people want in a community farm and what it could look like. From that grew a steering committee and from that a board. A board of three men in their 60s and four women in their 30s. A mighty combination of passion, wisdom, experience, delicious baked goods, clout and charm.

Now, 18 months after those first two brainstorming meetings, we have eight acres rent free and a potent partnership with KW Habilitations Services. KW Hab provides living and occupational supports for adults living wth developmental challenges. They own a residence on the North West edge of Waterloo where they have 8 acres they are letting us use. The acres just happen to be bordered on one side by a lovely forest with public trails (Avon Trail) already established in them! We received a Cloverleaf Foundation start up grant so we can buy seeds, tools and a modest building! We have a farm manager (volunteer!) and two volunteer farmers. We even have a uniquely talented architect who is helping us design the site and building, Krista Veld of VELD Architect. She knows rural architecture! We are also excited to partner with Young City Growers which is an urban agricultural project that will provide social engagement and employment for local youth. YCG will be working with a diverse group of 8 youth from the Waterloo Region.

       

Our challenges are: How to earn enough money to be able to offer the farmers a living wage (volunteering is not sustainable)? Food growing just doesn't earn much money per hour no matter how you calculate it. Another challenge is how to build a beautiful and inspiring multi-use building (wash station, fireplace, picnic shelter, tool storage...) for only $25,000. We are welcoming volunteer tradespeople and donations of materials.

Any ideas how to earn money on this venture? I was thinking we should make and market kale chips....

Comments:
Building a volunteer base

Hi Nina, this is really exciting.  As for hwo to make it financially vialble, I am not sure.  I do think there are opportunities though to build up a volunteer base, to support those farming.  Maybe connect it with a education program for youth, this would help bring in some funding while at the same time providing a steady stream of young volunteers.

Ignatius Farms in Guelph also has a model where they sell plots to community members for a small fee and then the community members are in charge of taking care of them.  I am not sure if this is the direction you are hoping to head but it might be another option.

I would buy Kale chips...

Thanks for sharing, Nina!

This is so exciting- and so necessary! Maybe get some churches on board, or perhaps the city would have a grant? ... also, I would buy kale chips!