By Caroline Tremblay, Orginally Posted in ELF Magazine
In just two weeks, the brand-new, local crowdfunding platform, The Local Crowd (TLC) Monadnock, helped raise more than $6,000 to support projects at two of Keene’s farms, Stonewall Farm and Archway Farm.
The Local Crowd Monadnock, a collaboration between several economic development organizations in the region, aims to inspire local people to invest in their communities with small contributions that add up to make big things happen.
The idea is one that’s gaining traction across the U.S., and Jen Risley, executive director of TLC Monadnock’s host organization, Monadnock Buy Local, is excited to roll it out here.
“It actually started about this time last year when Michael Shuman came to town, and he gave a talk about pollinator enterprises,” Risley explained. Shuman’s talk centered on developing businesses that support other businesses, an idea embedded in the mission behind TLC.
The day after Shuman’s talk, Risley received an email about a grant to pilot The Local Crowd program, and she felt it was a sign.
“I immediately sent it out to all my usual suspects who do economic development,” she said. Though the grant was due just two weeks later, a group of organizations jumped on board and put together a plan.
“We’re the only ones on the East Coast, and I think there’s only 25 sites happening,” Risley said. But she’s already been part of several conversations related to how the platform might benefit the rest of New Hampshire and beyond. Even after only a few weeks, TLC Monadnock has offered up great insights into what really works when it comes to crowdfunding on a local level.
On March 15, TLC Monadnock launched its first two campaigns, both of which focus on sustainable agriculture. One campaign supports Stonewall Farm’s plans to build a new animal barn for its educational and visitor services programs. The barn would create a safe, fun, interactive space for visitors to learn about animals such as sheep, alpacas, goats and chickens.
The second campaign, which is titled “Farm-to-Table on Wheels,” supports Archway Farm’s hopes to take their meats to the streets. Archway is a small family farm in Keene that raises heritage breed pigs. They sell most of their meat wholesale and would like to connect more with the community by purchasing a sausage cart. The cart would be used to serve food at The Farmers’ Market of Keene, as well as at private gatherings at people’s homes or businesses.
“I’m very excited to be able to bring locally produced meat to a wider audience,” said Mark Florenz, Archway’s owner. “I go to local fairs and festivals, and I’m always surprised at the lack of locally produced food options. I hope this can be one small step towards changing that.”
A relatively new farm, Archway is working to build up its network within the region.
“Having the local connection of Jen Risley and Monadnock Buy Local was what really attracted me to this funding option,” Florenz explained. He’s reached more than half his financial goal in just two weeks and is encouraged by the support received from family, friends, and the community, which he believes “recognizes the value of local sustainable agriculture.”
And be on the lookout for more TLC Monadnock campaigns coming soon.
“We’re really hoping to give preference to campaigns that are supporting a local, green and fair economy,” Risley noted. If the two-year pilot proves successful, she would love to see it expand, perhaps even incorporating the tri-state area of New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. She said the ultimate goal isn’t to detract from any existing fundraising efforts, but to “get more people contributing to really good community initiatives.”
For more information, visit monadnockbuylocal.wildapricot.org/tlc or follow TLC on Facebook at facebook.com/tlcmonadnock/ for updates.
The Local Crowd Monadnock - Mailing Address: 63 Emerald St. #114, Keene, NH 03431