We're only 600 $25 pledges away from the goal!
Pledge now at KickStarter.
In Case you haven't seen it, here's an interview done with Shentel's Simply Local. (Note to self: no coffee on an empty stomach before an interview!)
We're only 600 $25 pledges away from the goal!
Pledge now at KickStarter.
Did you know there are many kinds of farmers markets? There are municipal-managed markets; cooperative markets; and private markets, to name a few. But they all have one common thing: the ability to make local, fresh food accessible to the greater community.
“Farmers’ markets are more than just a building, a place to buy food. Places like this help keep beautiful, productive Virginia farms,” Elle Davis, the Virginia state director for rural development at the USDA, said in her speech at the Scottsville, Virginia Farmers Market in July of 2009.
The Scottsville Farmers Market, which can hold as many as 30 vendors, was an economic development project made possible by a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Town pitched in $10,000, according to an article in the The Daily Progress. Grants like these are wonderful for municipalities who don't have private folks able to champion such Markets. Arguably, most markets are set up through municipalities in order to take advantage of such rural economic development grants.
The Cooperative Farmers Market model is one where the vendors pull their financial resources in order to start an manage a market. These market structures can either lease from a municipality or private land owner, or can purchase a structure or land outright; and they work well when the members have the resources to do it.
The Mount Jackson Farmers Market is admittedly a "private venture". This is one thing that makes it a destination market rather than, say a municipal-market. Management and marketing expenses will be part of the package agreement for vendors. And the market is regulated under normal business laws.
There is not right or wrong, or good, better, best. However, a private market typically embodies the values of a truly "free market." Taxpayers' money is not used, and the success or failure is dependent on the private entity. In reality, the risk to a municipality is therefore greatly reduced, while the municipality still reaps the benefits of economic development and an increased tax base.
To date, the Mount Jackson Farmers Market has not asked for a dime of taxpayers' money. We may be forced to enter a public-private partnership at some point, but would prefer to keep out of taxpayers' pockets.
Though a private entity, the Mount Jackson Farmers Market is above all about the local community. We will employ local contractors, and offer the opportunity for local businesses and farmers to sell. We feel that if we can meet and exceed the demands of the local community for affordable-priced, local, and fresh food, then we will have succeeded.
It is for these reasons alone that we request your support.
Our KickStarter campaign is almost half over. We are 29% funded, with 19 days left to go. We'd love to be better than 50% funded by the end of the week. Plus, your pledge now will help to get more exposure on the KickStarter website. With the community's support, we will be able to start the 2012 Market Season off strong, and continue to give back to the community. Every pledge, even $1, counts.
Please visit our project site, if you haven't already, and show your support of a new business that will afford other small businesses the opportunity to get on sure footing and grow.
To those who have already shown your support, we really can't thank you enough, though we will try with not only our awesome rewards, but also by being a place where "everyone knows your name" and is committed to customer service.
We recently received the following question: "The town definitely needs something like this, so I'm with you in spirit. But before I'm with you in the wallet, I have a question. Who do you see as your customer base? How much is the local MtJacksonians, how much people who live up in Bryce, and how much is passers-by?"
Great question. We'll try to keep the answer brief, but this touches on an issue about which we are passionate. The Town has new sidewalks, parks, lampposts, pool house, etc., but those of us living in Town have to travel out of town to find a decent meal, clothes, entertainment and most everything. We attempt to "shop local" at all costs, but sometimes can't find what we need. We are thankful for the flower shop, the duck pin alley, and the thrift stores, and so on. Mt. Jackson used to be a thriving small town, with much more to offer.
The brief answer is that the Market's primary focus is specifically the local MtJacksonian. This is why we used the Town name in our name. If we can't meet the local demand/desires, then we will have failed. We are sensitive to the fact that the median household income is $35,800, and will therefore make certain that things are priced accordingly. We had a lot of great encouragement last summer, with folks from the community saying "These prices are cheaper than at the grocery store," and "we'd rather buy from locals than from the store." That's what we like to hear. We expect to have something for everyone, and, of course, would be foolish if we did not plan for the out-of-towner crowd, but that's not our first focus. Our overhead is lower, so we can keep prices down, while providing better quality.
The longer answer is that, the Town is now focusing on the new General Dollar, which means another empty spot at the shopping center, and more of the community's money going to China (I challenge you to find a single American-made thing in that store); AND on the southern I-81 interchange, according to the campaign letter I received from one of the councilmen that is up for re-election.
The letter reads, "Now that we have completed so many renovations [in Mount Jackson], we can start looking to future Mount Jackson projects and issues. In [this council-member's] mind the biggest opportunity is the southern I-81 interchange. This remains one of the last undeveloped interchanges in the Northern Shenandoah Valley. We have a real opportunity to turn this into a landmark tourist welcoming area. No immediate big development plans are underway, but this site has great possibilities—and needs encouragement coupled with careful guidance."
How are THOSE places going to serve the locals?! I suppose they will increase the tax revenue for the Town, and maybe even provide a few new jobs, but they're not really providing anything to the locals. What local needs to go to a tourist welcoming center? The Dollar General is not going to be providing that many new jobs, as its main goal is simply to get out of the shopping center because they want to offer more food, and the Shopping center's rules don't allow that. The plans for the visitor's center haven't been revealed fully, but this will likely increase tourist traffic to Town. So we support it for that. However, we need to have something in town that will benefit US, in addition to providing interest to the tourists. (Again, we are not developing the MJFM for toursits, but rather for US!)
We recently received the Mayor's newsletter. Perhaps our expectations are too high, but we would think that converting the largest and longest vacant building in the Downtown District would at least garner a bit more support from the Town officials.
For those who believe (and maybe even hope) that we are going to fail because of lack of financing, we can only say that perhaps they are right. We don't have deep pockets, and this is a rather large project. However, we have a lot of support, as well as a clear vision, and a bit of expertise. And we have the flexibility to grow into the property, if necessary. This is why the KickStarter project is so important, and why we've partnered with some great local businesses to provide the rewards.
When we use the term "destination" we want it to be a destination for locals first and foremost. THIS is our customer base. Though we'll be a bit different from, say, Dayton Farmers' market, I think that the model there is one that promotes local patronization.
As for passers-by/tourists, the thing that keeps tourists coming back is an honest, true experience - not something contrived or that they can get somewhere else (Cracker Barrel comes to mind.) We have the chance to be unique, and provide both local consumers and local businesses a place to meet. So, we're not about being something for tourists either.
We do hope to introduce a railroad theme at some point, considering the tracks are right out back, but that won't come into play until later. Right now, we just need to get the doors open and be taken seriously.
Any advice at how we can best serve the locals is welcome!
WHSV stopped by today and put together a wonderful clip about our KickStarter project! I don't know if the Market would exactly put MJ on the map, but we do feel as though the Market will be a wonderful destination place in the heart of Downtown.
Special thanks to Nancy Lavello and the Bowman-Shannon Cultural Arts Center!
Video here (give it a second to load.)
I suppose just a little bit. Actually, yes, quite a bit! When Tara stumbled on KickStarter, I admittedly took about two weeks to look at it. SHE WAS RIGHT! (Yes, Dear I said that.)
After reviewing the site, it made perfect sense. KickStarter's tagline is "A New Way to Fund & Follow Creativity." Well, everything about this project is creative, from the building to the food to the business structure. Then I saw that KickStarter runs all payments through Amazon. I order stuff through Amazon all the time - though not so much these days - so I know they are safe and secure. Next, I started reading about the successful projects and the press that KickStarter was getting. Everyone from the New York Times to CNN to NPR was discussing this company!
I've asked all the questions; and had a lot of folks as me the same questions:
I suppose, in a way, it's like the neighbor kid who shows up with a box of cookies to sell, or some form to fill out for their school sale. We all do it to support the kid. The school gets a minimal "cut" after the fundraising company takes theirs, which covers their overhead and the box of cookies.
This is a bit more though... Our project will have a huge community impact, and will have a ripple-effect.
For starters, it will provided affordable places for vendors, both artisans and farmers. Secondly, your pledge will ripple back through the community. We plan to buy as many renovation materials as possible from Habitat for Humanity, which means the money will go back into helping families in need. Also, we expect to use as many local contractors as possible, which means we're supporting them and their families. So, though we are not a non-for-profit, this is a project in the community, about the community and to support the community. We really do expect to have a little bit of something for everyone. And we're doing it without grants (which means not using taxpayer money).
The bottom line is that we are committed to making this project affordable for the vendors. If we can keep our debt low, by raising the necessary funds, then we will be passing that "savings" onto the vendors.
So, that's one reason that we felt the pledge/rewards thing could really work. More importantly, we've tried to set pledges at every level, so that everyone can have a piece of the action, and also get something in return.
Be sure to check out our Facebook page. We will be posting pictures of our rewards.
Hope to see you in person in April!
The Town Code requires us to install a hard surface parking lot, curb, gutters and sidewalks. "Grandfathering" as it is known in code world, is lost after two years.
So, the picture to the right is your typical parking lot, and what we are hoping to avoid. Don't get me wrong. It looks very nice. The contractor who installed this lot was VERY competent and did a wonderful job. We just don't think it says "Farmers Market" well.
After a comment about how permeable paving is not pretty, we discussed how most parking lots are not pretty. Since my (Gerald's) area of expertise is making buildings and sites "pretty", I decided to do a little more research, and ran across this photo, which became inspiration for the Farmers' Market Parking Lot. (A world of difference, huh?)
THIS is what we've come up with!
Our engineers scratched their heads a bit, but said it'll do just fine.
The lot will be permeable, which means that the water stay on-site, out of the Town's sewer system, and therefore does not cost those of us in Town a single dime!
The big three pollutants in urban runoff are sediment (dirt and debris), heavy metals (from the brake linings of cars), and hydrocarbons. One source of hydrocarbons is the oil that drips onto pavements from vehicles. But the primary contributor is the asphalt itself. Studies have shown that 90 to 95 percent of the hydrocarbons in urban runoff is from the binder and sealer used for asphalt pavements.
A previous pavement can:
There are economic benefits to us,
as well as to the Town and
those of us who live in Town and pay for water and sewer.
Pervious concrete is a sustainable product that actually saves money. It ends up being less expensive than a conventional parking lot. Among the reasons why:
Lower installation costs: According to the Center for Watershed Protection, installing traditional curbs, gutters, storm drain inlets, piping, and retention basins can cost two to three times more than low-impact strategies for handling water runoff, such as pervious concrete. Projects that use pervious concrete typically don't need storm sewer ties-ins, which eliminates the cost of installing underground piping and storm drains. Grading requirements for the pavement are also reduced because there is no need to slope the parking area to storm drains.
Permits the use of existing sewer systems: Pervious concrete may also reduce the need for municipalities to increase the size of existing storm sewer systems to accommodate new residential and commercial developments. Cities love pervious concrete because it reduces the need to rebuild storm sewer systems when new developments go up.
Increased land utilization: Because a pervious concrete pavement doubles as a stormwater management system, there is no need to purchase additional land for installing large retention ponds and other water-retention and filtering systems. That means developers and property owners can use land more efficiently and maximize the return on their investment.
Lower life-cycle costs: Pervious concrete is a sustainable paving material, with a life expectancy equal to that of regular concrete. Most parking areas, when properly constructed, will last 20 to 40 years, according to the Southern California Ready Mixed Concrete Association.
So... Please consider pledging to our KickStarter Project, so we can get a new parking lot and open our doors this Spring!
*Facts taken from www.concretenetwork.com
Here's a bit about how a pledge to our
KickStarter Project will support the LOCAL community:
Renovation of the market = jobs to at least 10 different trades.
Outdoor vendor spaces = income for a minimum of 16 local, small businesses, and more farmers
Year Round indoor vendor spaces = income for between 16 and 20 artisans, crafters and other small businesses.
The small country store = income to approximately 60 local suppliers, possibly more.
Eventually, (1) hard cider brewery = jobs for apple pickers, processors, and
Special entertainment venues = jobs for local musicians
Miscellaneous income opportunities at the market, such as cleaning, marketing, etc.
Mount Jackson Farmers Market = well over 150 jobs and opportunities
to the local community!
Please Click here and Pledge now!
We are not seeking grants, which uses taxpayers money, and we are providing wonderful gifts as a "Thank You" for your generosity.
All pledges are handled through KickStarter and billed through Amazon, both companies that are SECURE and well publicized.
Check out this great ntoe we received from KickStarter the second we launched!
"Congratulations, your project is live on Kickstarter!
Here's your project URL:
The countdown begins now. You know what to do: tell people about it!
Yep! It's official.
We have exactly 31 days, from today at noon, to raise a minimum of $25,000! The ONLY way this will work is if you spread the word.
We have pledge levels for everyone, and incredible gifts to reward you and your friends for your generosity.
As I mentioned in a previous post, this is "all or nothing." If we fail to meet our minimum goal, you are not charged a cent, and we keep the rewards. :-(
However, we don't want to keep the rewards! They're too great! (In the days to come, we'll be posting pictures of some of the rewards.)
Check out the project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mjfarmersmarket/a-desintation-farmers-market-in-the-shenandoah-val
We hope you'll like our video too!
Just a quick and short note today...
I trust you've had a chance to get acquainted with KickStarter. (If not, do it now!) If you're following us on Facebook, we've posted a few great successful projects for our encouragement and yours. It's really amazing what can be done when people work together.
We need to raise $25,000 in just 31 days! Actually, we need to raise quite a bit more than that, which will be explained in the project once it launches, and our rewards will be set such that everyone can participate!
So, what about our rewards? So far, we are certain to have fun T-shirts, Coffee mugs, and bumper stickers. However, we will also plan to have collectable hand-woven picnic baskets filled with Market goodies; collectable pottery; subscriptions to local food magazines; AND a few experience packages that will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF! (Think weekend getaway, with a private 7 course dinner, and special guest appearance by a local celebrity!) The suspense is killing you, isn't it? We'll post something about our partners later this week.
If there's one thing that we want to be remembered for, it's that we aim to please.
It was only Thursday that we were informed that our KickStarter project was accepted. Since then we have been "creating" the project on KickStarter. It should be ready next week.
However, here's a preview of some of the awesome rewards!!!
We will have everything from bumper stickers, T-Shirts and Coffee mugs, all with a beautiful MJFM Logo, of course, to picnic baskets filled with Market goodies, beautiful Shenandoah Pottery and original artwork by local artists! These, of course, can all be mailed anywhere in the US!!!! So pledges are not limited to only the Shenandoah Valley.
But WAIT! There's more. We are also putting together several amazing "Experience" packages, including a weekend at a local Shenandoah Valley B&B, that includes a private 7 course dinner at the Market, and a Hot Air Balloon Ride over this amazing Valley and the Shenandoah River!
Everyone will receive a special invitation to our Grand Opening. We will have a special VIP pre-launch KickStarter Party too for our special pledges!
So, get on KickStarter and sign up! Browse the "Food" section and get a feel for what others are doing. And watch this space for the launch of our Project sometime in the next week!