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ARTfarm Hurricane Maria Recovery

$24,282 of $44,000 goal

Raised by 41 people in 12 months
The ARTfarm on St. Croix, USVI experienced heavy damage to farm structures from Hurricane Maria. Despite four days of nearly 24 hour a day preparation on the farm and the adjoining farmstay vacation rental business, the CAT 5 hit the farm hard on September 19, 2017. We lost our seedling house, the ARTbarn gallery/studio, 10% of our breeding sheep, the chicken tractors, and half our fruit trees. We incurred damage to roof structures of toolsheds and to much of our livestock fencing. Utility power throughout the US Virgin Islands experienced catastrophic damage and grid power at the farm was gone for 5 months. For more details, please watch the three minute video we created to document our experience and goals for this fundraiser. The breakdown is listed below.

We originally asked for $23,000 in recovery funds on this page from friends and family and the community, to help us rebuild, assuming that FEMA, SBA and USDA disaster assistance programs would help where applicable. What we have learned after painstakingly applying to all these disaster aid programs is that agricultural businesses will categorically be denied any FEMA or SBA assistance as a matter of policy; and the USDA cannot assist with any structures on a farm. This leaves us with (apart from a lot of anger and frustration) smaller programs from USDA to assist with brush removal, fruit trees, fencing and livestock. So far we have received an underwhelming $454 in disaster relief from the USDA for our $1300 in livestock losses. 

Family and friends have asked how they can help. Funds are best so we can purchase local and appropriate materials, tools and labor and keep the money in our island economy. We decided to continue to supply the community with fresh food and delay our recovery efforts until the spring 2018. We opened for the season as of November 11th, 2017 and completed pasture fencing repairs and demolition work in summer 2018. We've made it through the 2018 storm season with no major storms, and are readying to reopen the farmstand in November 2018, but still have not rebuilt major structures lost in Maria.

Here are our estimates on what recovery of these key assets will cost us:

$20K - replace seedling house
$2K - replace fruit trees lost
$14K - replace the ARTbarn studio/gallery space
$2K - labor to repair pasture fencing
$6K - repairs to toolshed roof supports and other structures

We have already started recovery efforts so funding ASAP will help us to continue. Check out our donor levels. We are working on artworks both as therapy and to thank our generous supporters. Lots of love from the ARTfarm family!
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Greetings supporters and friends of ARTfarm! We just received a few more donations. We are a little over halfway to our funding goal, ($24k out of $44k) thanks to 40 individual donors. Thank you and please share our page with others! There are links from our website at artfarmllc.com.

It's been a while since we've checked into this funding page. As the storm season passed our island a year after Maria, we realize that true morale and genuine smiles take a long time to come back. The heart-crushing PTSD from experiencing a category 5 hurricane and its aftermath continues long after the event, and we and many in our community are still feeling a lot of storm anxiety and long-term recovery stress. Even though we all feel a sense of community strength, most people experienced a very stressful hurricane season this year – even though our island did not receive a direct hit again. So forgive us for being absent from this platform for a while!

Right now in October 2018 on St. Croix much post-storm progress has been made, BUT too many homes still have blue plastic tarps for roofs and too many businesses, families and students are still dislocated. It took nearly four months of running on generators to get our grid electricity back on the farm after the storm, and landline phone service has STILL not been restored to our location. Virtually all small to midsize construction crews on the island remain completely booked with restoration work. So although tourism is strong and many local cultural events have resumed, and our public schools in the territory have finally mostly reopened this fall, everything is not back to 'normal.' At the ARTfarm we are still in a waiting pattern to rebuild our seedling house, art gallery, destroyed greenhouse tables, and other damaged structures. But, we are focused on farming for now: planting like mad and planning to reopen for the season in early November! Just a few weeks away!

Since the end of last season’s full and busy farmstand year, a lot of progress has been made and your funds used for storm recovery. We have been able to pay an employee to help us repair the majority of our downed fencing and gates, clear downed brush, reset flipped trailers, and demolish the remaining parts of the ARTbarn, which was not stable enough to withstand a tropical storm. We constructed a new miniature “seedling hut” to get us through the season. We hosted a volunteer over the summer who patched the farmstand, cleaned out and organized damaged storage/toolshed areas, and built us a rat-proof chick box. We purchased new chicks at the local Ag Fair in May, and now this fall they have started to lay beautiful brown eggs.

We also continued to make progress on existing USDA contracts for soil conservation work, and got some much needed rest after skipping our downtime last year.

We have taken large amounts of whole downed tree debris and buried it into giant Hugelkultur growing beds that are then mulched deeply with chipped wood storm debris, which both capture carbon and conserve irrigation water. We now have approximately 5% experimental Hugel bed growing areas out of all garden beds on the farm. These farming techniques are labor intensive to build, but are becoming more necessary as temperatures climb and droughts get longer.

Last week, with the bulk of this current season's hurricane risk behind us, we finally replaced the membrane roof on our greenhouse in order to catch more rainwater for the coming season. (The plastic sheeting cannot be reused after it is installed, and in a storm will not release from the roof structure but will catch storm winds like an airplane wing and cause the entire structure to buckle – this is what destroyed our seedling house.)

Rainfall this past spring and summer has been so limited at our location that we purchased 9,000 gallons in August to keep our remaining fruit trees alive. Luca's father, who has farmed this land since the 1960s and keeps meticulous rain records, remarked that it was the lowest he'd seen in 40 years. Climate change continues to affect us post-Maria.

The new extremes and swings in weather cause imbalances in predator/prey populations of pests that affect crops and livestock. We experienced the loss of the rest of our hurricane survivor chickens during this dry summer to predation by mongoose - unprecedented in 18+ years. This fall we are seeing an unusual explosion in caterpillar populations, in part possibly due to the decrease of paper wasp and spider populations, and other natural predators.

We have still only received the $454 from the federal government in Hurricane Maria disaster relief funds through the USDA. (Even while we were strongly encouraged by FEMA to apply, FEMA and SBA denied our applications for relief because we are an agricultural business - see previous updates.) The amount of documentation, paperwork and manhours we had to perform to receive these livestock indemnity funds from USDA nearly exceeded the value of the payout (had we known the payout value ahead of time, we might not have applied) and was roughly a third of the replacement value of the animals lost. So we particularly appreciate these private donations to help us rebuild our farm stronger and more resilient from these Hurricane Maria losses.

We're really grateful that people have continued to support our cause. Check out our donation reward levels – we are, yes, STILL working in the studio on artworks to send our supporters! Remember, OFFLINE donations go 10% further but still count toward our fundraising goals and are posted to this campaign! Tell your friends, support organic sustainable agriculture, and help us reach our funding goal to rebuild! Thank you.
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It's the end of April, 2018. After six months of seeding, transplanting, prepping, mulching, composting, watering, harvesting, selling, rinse, repeat - we are winding down the ARTfarm growing season for this year and starting to focus on livestock fencing, farm structure and pond repair, and much needed rest after this unusually exhausting year of hurricanes. We're really grateful that people have continued to support our cause. Check out our donation reward levels – we are working in the studio on the monoprint artworks to send our supporters! Remember, OFFLINE donations go 10% further but still count toward our fundraising goals and are posted to this campaign!
Luca removing debris from the pond...
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A bit overdue, but we have updated our ARTfarm GoFundMe page to reflect the lack of federal disaster assistance from FEMA, SBA and USDA for the damage the farm incurred. Our goal for fundraising was previously $23k and now we are looking at $44k to make the needed repairs to the farm so that we can withstand more storms and continue to provide food and art to the community. We are frankly pretty overextended and burned out after an extremely busy growing season and only have until July 2018 before the hurricane season gets going again in the Caribbean. Please donate if you can to help us continue our sustainable farming practices and continue to make the farm more resilient against future major storms. GoFundMe accepts credit cards, but your money will go about 10% further if you donate directly via check, money order, cash or bank transfer. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
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Well, 43 Support Team emails later we are still working on a fix. It looks like, due to GoFundMe's internal issues, we have not been able to accept any donations for the last week. Very frustrating! They swear they will have this resolved today. We are still without electricity at the farm and house so getting online to troubleshoot this is something we can only do for a limited number of minutes per day. Hoping they will finally fix this issue before we have to ask everyone for a check. I will inquire about reversing the charges for anyone who would prefer to write us a check directly to help us rebuild. This is ridiculous, and they take a percentage of your donation! Trying to be patient.
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$24,282 of $44,000 goal

Raised by 41 people in 12 months
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$250
Mary Bingham
29 days ago
KV
$250
Kristina VandenBerg
29 days ago
SS
$50
Sara Strachan
5 months ago
MH
$50
Melissa Humbarger
6 months ago
$100
Anonymous
6 months ago
JO
$500
John & Nancy Ogden
7 months ago (Offline Donation)
CS
$1,000
Christina McPherson & Shawn Samuel
7 months ago (Offline Donation)
$150
Anonymous
7 months ago
MM
$1,000
Michelle Moore
9 months ago (Offline Donation)
TG
$250
Thomas Geiger
10 months ago
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