Winter months are upon us which means we have less to do. So where have we been? Where do we start?! How about the beginning?
Since we have been gardening seriously we have experienced loads of joy and with that comes some disappointments. As we have evaluated our failures in farming we realized one thing – more financing is needed. In our household there is one working individual and that is our financer, my husband, Mr. Bain Home Gardner. This being the case, its extremely difficult to have on hand, at all times, the supplies & tools needed to be successful in organic, chemical-free growing (OCG – my acronym). I prayed long and hard about it wondering if we just needed to give up the whole idea. The benefits however, far outweighed the costs! Not only have we been able to live a healthier lifestyle but our regular customers depend on our success – in fact they need us to expand! How?
I began researching grants available to new farmers. My friend Rachel, manager of our sister farm, Hawkins Homestead Farm, had already done extensive research and shared her knowledge with me. I was so appreciative. There is so much information out there and it is hard to know which rock to look under without proper direction. We were able to get more information from farming agencies. One thing that I learned is that most grants (some called subsidies now) do not cover the cost up front, rather there is a reimbursement process. Secondarily & just as important, I learned that the awarded funds in some cases would not cover cost 100%. These are very important factors for us! Where would the funds initially come from? How would we cover the gap? Research continued.
At this point I cannot really recall exactly how I came across the Cultivating Change Grant Program. Perhaps it was while researching. Perhaps it was a pop up as Google spied on my other grant research. Either way, I found the program online mid November. It just seemed just right for what we needed! As I read I saw that our participation would be based on a popular vote contest. I thought, “We could do that!” I created an account and began to layout our plan for expansion. This was harder than I originally thought. We have talked over our plans for expansion but they were planned for a 3 year timeline according to the availablity of funds. We firmly decided not go into debt since we have been working to be completely free of it within the next 4 years. However, the grant would allow us to expedite our expansion and allow us to give back to our community sooner. Thus our planned time line had to be adjusted. But wait, there’s more!
Once the timeline was established, cost expenditures had to be calculated. Where in our pervious plan we estimated cost based on what we thought it would cost, now we actually had to call and research to get accurate estimates. Once that was done we had to choose 5 photos that gave an accurate representation of our farm. This I thought would be easy since I have folders upon folders of photos on the computer of the garden but that actually made it much more of a challenge!
Most of this was worked out along with our sister farm. We helped each other select photos and proofread each others project goals and objectives. How long did it take? I created the account on November 13, 2018 however the application was not completed until December 15, 2018 – which coincidentally was the deadline for the application.
So where have we been? We have been working hard to ensure that we, along with Hawkins Homestead Farm, win this popular vote contest! So we need your help! If you have not already done so please head over to Cultivating Change and register to vote. It should only take about 2 minutes. Once you are registered you can vote daily for multiple farms. Winnings can be up to $10,000. That would mean the world to our family farm!!! You can access direct voting by clicking below:
• Bain Home Gardens
• Hawkins Homestead Farm
As I have looked over the profiles of the farms enrolled, there are so many beautiful, deserving farms. I am so proud to be a part of this community of growers that spans over the globe! As of now, our votes are not as high as we had hoped. Thankfully we have the entire month of January to acquire votes so please take the time (60 seconds) each day to vote for our farms. We cannot do it without YOU!