November 10, 2011

A Small Scale Farm Tries To Kickstart Their Funding

It’s easy to sometimes forget that small food businesses are not just made up of artisans that turn ingredients into finished products like jams, cakes, and catered meals.  Small farmers are an integral part of our greater food community.   The ingredients they create are the very life blood of many artisan food businesses.  If the farmer didn’t pour his/her passion and energy into raising truly amazing ingredients then artisan producers would be hard-pressed to make their food stand out much from the Big Boys.   So today, as promised, we are talking to a pair of food entrepreneurs who also happen to be farmers.  Husband and wife team Khaiti and Andrew French started their small farm in western Wisconsin a year ago and, now faced with the need to grow to keep up with demand for their products, they have turned to Kickstarter to help them generate the much-needed funds.

How did the two of you decide to get into farming as a career?  What experience did you both have with food and/or farming prior to making this change? 

We’ve both worked in Natural Food Coops for years, where we learned a lot about farming, food, and business. Khaiti grew up on a small homestead and loved that lifestyle, and Andrew grew up in rural farming communities and loved the good honest work involved in farming. We both loved the idea of working with the land, and raising animals and vegetables for a living. We’re both very self-driven and motivated people, and so being self-employed is really the best option for us.

Your Kickstarter page mentions that you practice Permaculture on your farm.  Can you explain what Permaculture is and why that is important to your farming methods?

Permaculture to us is connecting all the elements of our farm together to create a self-sustaining living system, rather then simply buying inputs like fuel and fertilizer to grow crops to sell to the commodity market. It is a design methodology that mimics the living patterns of the earth to help us create self-sustaining biological systems for our farm. It is important to us because it is what ties the whole farm together.

Your farm is named ‘Living The Dream.’  Do you feel that this farm and everything you’re working towards is a dream come true?

This is our dream, to live and farm on our own little piece land. As we work on our farm, it can only get better. It does feel amazing that we’ve finally found the right piece of land and each other, and that our farm business is successful so far. So in that sense, we actually feel like this is a dream come true.

Farming is tough, physical work.  To those of us who romanticize about farm life, tell us what some of the best parts and some of the hardest parts of running a working farm are?

The best parts are when we get some down-time to chill out with the animals and just enjoy their animal presences, as well as hanging out in the garden in the fall and seeing all of our hard work come to some fruition there. Also, being able to eat so many delicious meals from our own farm goods is fantastic.

The hardest part of farming probably is not knowing ever if anything will go right. When the pigs get loose and start to rampage across the gardens or a goat gets out and starts to nibble on a 25 year old apple tree. Usually the idyllic photos of homestead life are in perfect weather right? But there are many many days where it is raining or snowing and you don’t want to go outside and deal with the problem, but you have to because nobody else will.  By far, though, the hardest thing about small scale farming is cash flow. When you feed your animals only the best organic feed that makes for a tight pocketbook. We live very frugally to make this farm continue.

It sounds like duck eggs play a major financial role in your farm, is that correct?  What other items does your farm sell?

Yes duck eggs are the major product from our farm. We sell to Twin Cities Food Coops, and our duck eggs are featured in our seasonal Farmshare CSA program, in which our customers get a box of farm goodies once or twice a month.  We also sell pastured chickens and turkeys that have gotten some rave reviews!

Why did you go to Kickstarter to try and raise the funds you need to grow rather than to the government or a bank?

We had seen some successful Kickstarter projects before, and after meeting with our local [Farm Service] agent and talking about the different aspects of governmental agricultural loans, we realized that we would rather launch a Kickstarter campaign and raise the funds that way, and give out some of our great farm goodies in return for support. Kickstarter seems like a great way to raise money for great causes, and we feel that it is perfect for our small project. If our project is successful, we can continue to focus on growing and perfecting our farm business. Contributing to the local economy is very important to us, as well as connecting our customers with the foods they eat.

How much money are you hoping to raise?

$16,000

What do you plan on doing with the money if you can raise it?

We have budgeted for building a new hoophouse, buying electric fence, buying 300 ducklings and feeding them for a year, and hopefully we will have enough to also get water and electric out to the hoophouse.

How much time did it take you to craft your Kickstarter video and input the necessary information?

We thought that it might take an afternoon to produce, but it took around four days of planning, shooting, editing, and then editing a little bit more. We realized that we had all the detailed information in writing, so we just wanted to show a little bit about us and our farm more then anything else.

How are you marketing your Kickstarter fundraising program to family, friends, and strangers to help you reach your goal?

Right now we are marketing more or less through word of mouth and on Facebook. We’ve sent one email out to some family and friends, but we hope that those who care about small scale farming will pass it along to folks who may have the funds to help us out.

Where do you two hope your farm will be in 5 – 10 years?

Doing the same thing, only better and with more time to relax and put on awesome dinners!

How can people in the Twin Cities/Western Wisconsin area get in touch with you if they want to try your products?

The best way is through email: farmers@ltdfarm.com or by commenting on our website at ltdfarm.com

 If you’re interested in learning more about the Living The Dream Kickstarter campaign or would like to contribute to their efforts you can view their page here.  If nothing else, be sure to check out the video on their Kickstarter page which includes lots of images of their adorable farm animals.  

Living The Dream Farm

Seriously, how cute! Posted with permission from Living The Dream Farm

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