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Slow Money and Slow Growing

November 12, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the last couple days I’ve been listening to the live stream from #SlowMoney14 and incredible farms and people doing awesome things for their community food supplies. I hear a few things I don’t agree with, a few things that seem preaching to the choir and inspiration of those who face similar obstacles and are finding ways, and financing, to overcome it.

In some cases that involves millions of dollars – underscoring the adage of everyone can have money issues it’s a matter of amount. I look at what we’re doing and it seems incredibly small next to others, but as I’ve long said we started where we were with what we had. The changes are incredible, but didn’t come overnight. Finding partners to share the vision has been difficult to get to that next level, and some very big obstacles.

There’s all the right descriptions – women owned business, small disadvantaged business etc but it falls through the cracks of qualifying for grants, loans and government programs (the latter I’d like to avoid!). Folks like statistics so here’s a few to start from the county we’re in.

11.2% of the population don’t have access to grocery stores

19.4% of high schoolers are physically active

15.5% low income preschool obesity rate

66,661 county population

23.2% poverty rates

34.6% child poverty rates

The adult obesity rate in Walker County is 34.8%, which is much worse than the average for all counties in the United States. The percent of adults with Type II diabetes in this county is 14.8%, which is higher than the national average of 10.30%.

Now some may criticize that it’s by choice. People have jobs but don’t show up for work, or make priorities of bad habits or alcohol or drug addiction. Those are true. Let’s say half of those affected by poverty fit that, which I think is high.

That’s 7,733 people scrambling for a hand up. We’re among that number, and don’t talk about it because it’s a bad thing and doesn’t help anyway. It gives a bad image to ask for help. We’re facing loss of a season’s worth of plants because of inability to raise $250 for the hoop greenhouse before the 25* cold happens tomorrow night. We can squeeze many into the 25 square foot greenhouse but it’s unheated and will freeze – and there’s not enough cash flow for wood, let alone 100′ extension cords to run heat lamps out there.

I’ve swallowed pride and asked for help spreading the word on ebooks – and was largely ignored. With a social media reach over the 7,733 people none came forth with a $25 subscription or $3 or $5 for an ebook to enable us to help others. We don’t have millions of those at the #SlowMoney14 conference and have an extremely challenged local market to deal with.

To combat that I’m looking towards more things that can be shipped outside the area for 2015. This allows sales which are critical to helping a couple hundred of those 7,733 people with healthy, direct food. Be it online or in person community can be inclusive or exclusive.

So do we give up? No.

There’s litters coming to scramble and try to insure their survival. There’s a dozen projects of $300-600 each and more from $150-200 – among them:

Garden hoop greenhouse

Fencing perimeter to prevent theft, trespass

Construction of 15 5×10 raised beds

construction of 3×10 raised bed wall, which provides perimeter raised fence, enabling a functional 6′ high fence

Between the raised beds will be mobile pens to make use of grass – geese, chickens, perhaps feeder rabbits will rotate through the property.

critically rare with some on reserve for SlowMoneyFarm in 2015

critically rare with some on reserve for SlowMoneyFarm in 2015

Provides conservation for critical and endangered rare breeds of small livestock and heirloom varieties of vegetables, many on Ark of the Taste list. This provides income and helps people and preserves food options. Several years in we’ve built raised beds, a small greenhouse now, poultry and rabbits, and bit by bit more each year. Sometimes it’s seemed like one step forward three steps back, but the reality is it’s forward.

Slow Food. Community. Tradition. Helping others. Can’t win-win be possible? Will you be one to help? We don’t need millions, or hundreds of thousands even. But we seek to change a community that can’t afford to help itself. When celebrities look down at “unhealthy poison” I see folks who can eat that or have nothing. I seek to make a difference but those food celebrities don’t see us as they walk over with pointy designer shoes. Is it greedy to want warm boots?

The need is urgent, and not going away, and most look down rather than part with a Starbucks or Whole Food sale to help those who can’t afford either with longer term solutions that expose more to agriculture. Survival is a primal thing. We appreciate your help here to help others. I’m not looking at Christmas shopping because there won’t be any this year again. Everything is in to growing this venture. The land spot is an expense whether used or not.

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