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Home | Current News and Features | Crowdfunding Helps Support Local Foods, Farms, Communities — and You

Crowdfunding Helps Support Local Foods, Farms, Communities — and You

Over the past few years, half a dozen Maine farms have already told their stories on crowdfunding platforms and raised more than $125,000 from families, friends, and supporters — hundreds of individuals who see the value in the investment, give (usually) small amounts, and receive not just the campaign rewards, but the satisfaction of contributing to something bigger than themselves.

Crowdfunding Helps Support Local Foods,

Farms, Communities — and You


It’s no wonder our Maine state slogan is “Dirigo” (meaning to direct or lead).


According to the USDA, while the number of farms across America fell by 4 percent from 2007 to 2012, the number in Maine actually grew slightly, to 8,174. The market value of the state’s agricultural products grew 24 percent, to more than $763 million in 2013. The number of farmers’ markets doubled, from 63 to about 135. And farmers are diversifying their offerings ever farther to meet the needs of farm-to-table restaurants and customers who are passionate about eating locally and sustainably.


That’s the good news.


The bad news is that farming is still a mighty tough business. It always has been. But remarkably, today’s crowdfunding has been emerging as a striking new 21st-century way for farms — one of Maine’s oldest industries — to raise capital, strengthen and expand the business, and rally the community around them.


Part of the reason for this is that, with their long tradition of sales direct to consumers, Maine farmers have always known how to tell their story — how they produce the food they bring to market, why and how they came to be farmers, and what the future holds for their farms.


The result? Over the past few years, half a dozen Maine farms have already told their stories on crowdfunding platforms and raised more than $125,000 from families, friends, and supporters — hundreds of individuals who see the value in the investment, give (usually) small amounts, and receive not just the campaign rewards, but the satisfaction of contributing to something bigger than themselves:


  • In 2012, for example, Jim and Megan Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Family Farm in Bridgewater used the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to raise funds to build an equipment repair shop to maintain their antique tractors. The farm sells certified organic potato and vegetable seeds through an online store. Their mail order business was key to establishing and building the successful farm, which is located hundreds of miles from Maine’s major cities. In a second campaign, in 2016, the couple’s son Caleb and his three siblings used the crowdfunding platform Barnraiser (which specializes in helping farmers) to pay for upgrades to the farm’s fiber-optic Web service and online store. Says Jim, “The organic community is generous and very supportive of the good work organic family farmers are doing. Crowdfunding offers a great opportunity for community members to genuinely connect with organic farmers and get behind a worthwhile project otherwise out of reach for the farmer.”


  • Brady Hatch and Brendan McQuillen of Morning Dew Farm in Newcastle used crowdfunding to buy the farmland they’d been leasing. Ten years earlier, the land had been slated for development as a Walmart. But the community, along with the Damariscotta River Association and Maine Farmland Trust, arranged to put a farmland easement on it once it was sold to the farmers. For Brady and Brendan, the land represents an opportunity for the farm to put down permanent roots and to finalize the preservation of the field as working farmland. Brady says, “Crowdfunding is a great platform for financing a project like ours. The success of our campaign showed us the resiliency of our businesses and the soundness of our plan.” She herself has supported several similar farm crowdfunding campaigns in the region.


  • Apple Creek Farm of Bowdoinham — run by Jake Galle and me — is midway through a crowdfunding campaign of its own. We’re raising $12,000 to build a hoop house that will provide winter housing for our expanded flock of laying hens. The project marks the kick-off of a farm expansion that will see us moving from leased land (where our primary operations and rented residence are currently located) onto adjacent land that we own. We’ll also be building a new barn and house and renovating an existing building to create a farm store and cold storage.


As you can see from stories like these, what Maine farmers and their spirited supporters are really doing when they crowdfund is building a better future for Maine — for healthier farms and foods, a stronger economy, more resilient communities, and a more sustainable environment.


Because when Maine farms succeed, we all eat better!



Abby Sadauckas

    Apple Creek Farm
    Bowdoinham, ME

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