Growing food takes money. You’ll need more or less depending on your goals, but you can’t enjoy heirloom tomatoes or host community events without a little start-up cash.
Seeds, shovels, trees … maybe a greenhouse? It’s important to think of all the equipment and materials your new endeavor may require and estimate how much it will cost. The CF Google Drive has sample budgets that detail the typical start-up costs of a campus farm or garden.
Keep in mind that size and mission dictate a lot about your budget. Do you think you will be a commercial farm and require more inputs, organized labor, and business planning, or will you manage a smaller, more casual space where students can experiment in their own or shared plots? To make a budget it’s important to decide who will be growing food and why you are growing it.
Once you have a budget, it’s time to raise the funds. Apply for grants, seek donations from students and faculty, try your hand at crowdfunding on Kickstarter or Indie Go-Go, or host a “farmraiser” – a fancy, farm-fresh dinner at the soon-to-be farm.
Depending on your size, some growing spaces can be run on a shoestring budget. Seek used and donated tools and equipment, ask for last years’ seeds from local garden stores, create wishlists and put them out to the local gardening community. You may be surprised by how much food you can grow without spending a dime!
Sometimes, local corporations will come out to a farm and volunteer both their money and labor toward a specific project, such as building a greenhouse or laying irrigation. Organizations such as One Brick and Volunteer Match will get you connected with large groups of volunteers, many of whom can become funders too. Fundraising can seem intimidating at first, but remember – when you communicate your passion and vision to the world, it becomes contagious!
START-UP FUNDING RESOURCES:
- You Can Farm: The Farmer’s Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise by Joel Salatin
- FarmraiserPlanningGuide (PDF)
- KickstarterSchool (a guide to crowdfunding success)
- Grant Writing 101 by Victoria M. Johnson
- Writing for a Good Cause by Joseph Barbato