Here is the short version, long version is further down so please read on!
To build an organic Community Supported Farm in Falmouth, MA that will make use of marginal size plots of land to produce exceptional quality and quantities of produce through no-till, regenerative agricultural practices.
Falmouth’s cost of land is un-obtainable on a farmer’s income. Most larger plots of agricultural land have been chopped up and developed into housing with no regard for the inherent value of agricultural soils. This combination has led to a lack of productive soils, fresh local food, and farmers. Farming is a labor of love and if this town wants more farmers growing with love and passion then please read on.
The direct sale market is wide open and ready for me and other farmers to fill. The local farm to table restaurants I. already have the pleasure of being in relationship with have committed to buying what I can produce. While at Pariah Dog Farm I was constantly approached by small stores and restaurants looking for organic greens. My hope is to fill this void over time by growing my farm slowly and field by field. By employing other local folks who are passionate about local food and sustainable agriculture, I hope this void may one day be filled with a rich and flourishing local food system.
What is your company/product about?
Feather Light Farms is focused on quality and efficiency without sacrificing the health of the ecosystem: quality of life, quality of soil, quality of product, quality of relationships. Efficient use of appropriate technology, efficient use of resources, efficiency of time and energy.
Why I am seeking funding?
The funding I am seeking will only be used to buy specific equipment essential to the start-up of my farm. My goal is to have the community I am feeding help me purchase the tools I need to farm. A truly Community Supported Farm getting started with the right equipment will increase success by having a great number of people who are invested in the process and the produce.
Asking for money is not something I enjoy doing, and it feels very strange to be asking your support in this way. As a low-income person my whole life I know many people will be inspired by this project but unable to donate money. Inspiration does not change your financial situation, so for those of you in a similar fiscal standing please know there are so many ways for you all to get involved. I am in need of helping hands and material support as well. Please check out the site and toward the bottom you can find other ways you can contribute! Please consider emailing me at [email redacted] if you wish to be on the volunteer email list. I can also connect you to many other amazing farmers in the community that could use more hands.
Crowdfunding is a technique a lot of young first generation farmers find themselves using. I am embracing it in order to support myself and the community in the ways I wish to.
Farming is essential to all of our lives but it takes a whole community! Lets stand up to Large Argo business, relocalize our food system and build a true CSF- Community Supported Farm.
Here are some farms that have inspired me and my farming ambitions, and which will serve as models for Feather Farms
-a farm located in California that is making over $100,000/acre with no-till practices.
-a farm with offers creative solutions to weed management
-author of The Market Gardener, a book about running an efficient small scale farm.
-owned by Eliot Coleman, a farmer who revolutionize four season farming.
-a farm in British Colombia using space from rented backyards
Farming equipment needed:
Click on the item to see exactly what I’m requesting funds for!
Electric Fence and solar energize- $850 - $1300
Support hoops $260
Frost protection/ insect netting $120
Planting & bed preparation
Silage tarps 100x50 $290
Paper pot transplanted starter kit $2,900
Greens Harvester $500
Drill set to power harvester and tilther $200 x2
6 row seeder $675 or Jang 5 row seeder $1,300
Broad fork $230
Wash Station equipment:
Stainless steel surfaces-$915.
Shiny and new but expensive!
Storage and transportation bins 24-$600
Irrigation supplies $500 +
Precision Weed Managment tools:
Mutineer Handle x2 $120
Wire seeder set $70
Collinear hoe set $44
Rebellion Mutineer attachment $130
Rebellion full set $160
Flame weeder $223
Wheel hoe $130
Terrateck double wheel hoe & accessories- $950
Compost soil amendments and fertilizer
This would be turned into a mobile refrigeration unit & used as a mobile market, and would provide even more opportunity for employment an engagement
Low tunnel $1,225
Irrigation for low tunnel $365
Shade cloth $190
This would allow me to produce earlier in the spring and later into the fall as well as using it as a shade house during the hot summer months.
Other ways you can help!
Be added to the volunteer list: email [email redacted]
Follow us on Instagram @featherlightfarms
Come to a work day! You will receive an email once the dates are set!
Many of the items on my list could be found in the community.
Know someone with a commercial salad spinner lying around, or an old washing machine?
We can save $2,300 bucks if someone wants to help build a few salad spinners, check this video out
I will be building a post harvest wash station like this one, like to build?
5-10 yards of aged wood chips &
10- 15 yards of fresh hardwood chips, got a chipper?
A large quantity of clean cardboard preferably large brown pieces (think bike boxes) small works too
A truck load of brown paper bags like the pile in your house from when you forgot your reusable shopping bags
Many hands make light work! The work days should be a blast and I will make them educational of coarse so you will be getting some knowledge for your energy output.
Letters of Support from my amazingly supportive community:
To Whom is May Concern:
I have been an enthusiastic customer of Jennifer Christian's produce for several years. I have been consistently extremely satisfied with the quality of her produce, which is always the best at the farmer's market. She is a hard-working and fantastic farmer. She grows interesting and delicious vegetable varieties that are not available at the supermarket. Not only is the quality of the food she produces top-notch, I have complete faith that her methods are safe for my family and gentle on the environment. By eating her food, I know I'm doing a good thing for the health of my family and the earth. Her personality and customer service add to the pleasure of patronizing her farms. She also gives great cooking tips! I sincerely hope that Jennifer Christian is able to continue producing food in Falmouth; I will be happy to continue as a customer. We are lucky to have her.
I offer my enthusiastic support for Jennifer Christian's new agricultural adventure in Falmouth.
Ms. Christian spoke at the Waquoit Bay N.E.R.R. coastal resilience forum on local food several years ago. Her passion for sustainability and local agriculture inspired me to become a farm volunteer after my retirement and move to Falmouth. Throughout those year round growing seasons, I observed an organized leader with a deep reverence for the earth, a love for growing beautiful, fresh food using organic, sustainable practices, knowledge and care for soil health, and attention to food safety and quality control. A natural at building community and promoting the common good, "Farmer Jen" also brings a strong work ethic, sense of responsibility and commitment to nourishing people already demonstrated by her experience of growing produce for local restaurants, markets, CSA, and Farmer's Market customers in the Falmouth area.
Jennifer is gifted with an entrepreneurial spirit, strong marketing sense, deep ties in the Falmouth and agricultural communities, and a wide network of support to make the new Feather Light Farms venture a success. Top-quality, locally grown food simply pales in comparison to travel weary food from other parts of the country and beyond. It provides us with an opportunity to walk a little more gently on the earth, to support a neighbor, and ultimately, strengthen resilience in the Falmouth community. I look forward to welcoming this new farm to Falmouth and hope that we might make Feather Light Farm produce available for purchase through the Waquoit Zero Waste Bulk Buying Group.
Rev. Janet Smith-Rushton
Waquoit Zero Waste Bulk Buying Group
Go Green Team, Waquoit Congregational Church
To: Anyone who eats food,
Over the years, I've known many people who thought they wanted to farm. It's an admirable goal but, sadly, most of them went on to do something else. Farming is hard, and not just physically, It requires a very diverse skill set. A small farmer has to handle horticulture, finance, marketing and more, all while being the field hand in chief. Fortunately, this is no pipe dream for Jeny. She has all these skills and more, as well as a proven track record of growing amazing greens and a ready market for them. If you want to support local food and sustainable agriculture in Falmouth, I can't think of any better way than to contribute to Feather Light Farm.
owner: Perennial Solutions
In Support of Jeny and Featherlight Farms:
It’s rare to meet a person who brings so much love and joy to their work and you can taste it in the food that Jeny grows. Her training in permaculture design, sustainable living and extreme attention to detail are matched with a touch of green magic. We are so lucky that she has landed here on Cape Cod and I hope we will support her as a community in her new endeavor: Feather Light Farms.
Jeny’s passion is not only for growing perfect and addictively delicious greens: she holds the big picture- the health of the earth and the health of the community in her planning at every step. She truly believes in the power of nutrient dense, locally grown food to support the wellbeing of every individual and the land we share.
There are many reasons to invest in local agriculture: quality of food, local jobs, waste reduction, food miles reduction, earth-friendly/regenerative crop management, education, woman-owned businesses, community (and on and on). Personally I can’t live without the food that Jeny grows because it is so GOOD so I will be doing whatever I can to support her!
I am writing in support of the Go Fund Me effort by JenyChristian to launch “Feather Light Farm”. I have known Jeny for years and she produces the most incredible, wonderful vegetables I have ever eaten. I purchase all the greens for my household exclusively from Jeny and look forward to continuing to do so.
Her farming methods contribute to LOCAL, ORGANIC, SUSTAINABLE food production, while restoring, renewing, and rebuilding the soil. She has also been a deeply involved and active resident of our community, making a difference in the lives of all who know her.
She is one of the most creative, determined, and hard-working people I know. I look forward to supporting her in this new, exciting endeavor.
To Whom it May Concern
I am writing this on behalf of Jeny Christian who I have had the pleasure of knowing, watching, and working with over the past 5 years. Being a farmer myself, I can attest to her dedication to the craft. She is knowledgeable, creative, and extremely competent. Jeny not only focuses on growing the healthiest food for her customers but cares as equally about the health of the soil she uses and the health of her bottom line.
I also serve on the Board of Directors of Farming Falmouth with Jeny. Our non-profit is focused on supporting and promoting the local production of food and fiber here in Falmouth. Here I get to witness her professionalism, passion and seemingly bottomless energy.
Backing Jeny as she establishes her business is a win-win choice. We all win by having another fine farmer in Falmouth and we win by having her energy added to whatever project, off the farm, she engages in.
Endorsed with enthusiasm,
Field Manager, Coonamessett Farm
February 11, 2020
I first met Jennifer Christian in the spring of 2018, when I went to work as a volunteer at Pariah Dog Farm. I have seen up close the quality, energy and determination she brings to every project. Jeny is a visionary with an educated, creative and passionate approach to farming, farming education and community. I believe that her dedication to local sustainable agriculture is a force for positive change on the Cape, and fully support her efforts in every way I can. Feather Light Farms will be a source of healthy delicious greens, and another beacon of light in the local food movement.
The long version:
My name is Jennifer Christian I am a first generation farmer here in Falmouth, Massachusetts. I’m originally from Western Mass where agriculture is a way of life but over the past four years have become very attached to this community and the ways that it has supported me. I have been growing food pretty consistently since 2007 growing here in Falmouth since 2014. I hold an associates degree in food and farms systems and a certificate in renewable energy and energy efficiency. I have an internationally recognized permaculture design certificate and was trained as a heavy diesel mechanic in the United States Army National Guard. Currently I am the manager of the Falmouth Farmers Market from May to October and I am also currently president of a new educational nonprofit here in Falmouth called Farming Falmouth. I previously spent two years on the agricultural commission. Needless to say I am pretty entrenched in the agricultural community here in town and wish to continue to be a part of its growth.
This past year has been spent in transition and it made me realize more than ever that growing food is my greatest passion. During this time of transition many of my friends and fans have been urging me to find a way to get back into farming. Though the merits of farming are never lost on me, farming is one profession that has a large barrier to entry,especially in Falmouth where the cost of land is high, the year round population is diminishing and quality soils are hard to come by. If I want to be a farmer here and now, my solution to this situation is a farm design concept that I am naming Feather Light Farms. My farm will be low till, regenerative agriculture. This is not a new idea and there are many small urban farms and larger market garden style farms using these exact techniques with great success. This style of agriculture can be squeezed into very small marginal plots of land and produce incredible yields. I have been offered many small plots of land all over Falmouth from backyards to space at another local farm. I have decided to start on a 2 acre plot in East Falmouth that has a well for irrigation in full sun with a perimeter fence, as well as two lovely land owners. I will be renting a greenhouse from a local nursery less than a quarter-mile away which will allow me to get a jump on the growing season and speed up my production.
Being a first generation farmer has its obvious disadvantages. I have not been handed down any equipment or land to get started with and have no equipment from my previous farming endeavor which is still doing very well. I have chosen farming as my profession fully knowing that you cannot make a large amount of money growing food. This fact I have excepted due to the overwhelming satisfaction I get from knowing my work is truly needed. I have been studying and growing food since I was 20 years old and even with 12 years under my belt I have never made enough money to pay off student loans, buy land, or invest in equipment. This is where my community can come in and help build this farm from the ground up. Farming to me truly a necessary community civil service. In this gofundme campaign I wanted to do things very transparentley. You will notice as you explore this site that every dollar is accounted for and linked to the specific piece of equipment I need to start this farm off on the right footing.
Feather light farms will be focused year one on growing micro-greens and baby head lettuce high quality greens mixes for wholesale to locally owned restaurants and stores. The micro-greens are already growing and i will be making my first deliveries before you read this. Micro greens are high value crop that can be grown quickly in a 8 to 20 day cycle which allows me to cater to local high-end restaurants. Baby greens and multi cut greens for salad mixes have higher yield per square ft of bed space as well. All yields and inputs will be carefully tracked for data to asses my progress toward building a financially stable farm that can grow steadily each year. My field system will start year one with 2 50x50ft field blocks which gives me 30 - 50 foot x 30inch beds with the hope that I will slowly grow the farm field block by field block. I will employ a intensive planting schedule that will allow for financial viability by moving through 3-4 crop rotations in a planting season. These methods of intensification and crop diversity paired with organized planting and harvest plans will be integral to the success of the farm.
Feather Lights Farms will rely on a type of farming known as low till regenerative agriculture. It has the advantages of minimal disturbance to the soil profile while still creating a nice seedbed for direct seeding crops. Science has finally realized that turning the soil so violently with machinery the way we have been for generations is actually releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, killing off the beneficial microorganisms in the soil, making the food less nutrient dense and adding to climate change. Reacting to that reality has led to no till systems or low till systems which maintain the soil profile and allow beneficial bacteria, microbes and mycelium to actually work with plants to pull carbon dioxide into the soil for the plant and soils benefit. The reason that these systems of agriculture have not been widely adopted is mostly due to the fact that it requires more labor hours than most operations can afford to pay. Currently our food system is designed where your food is grown everywhere besides in your town by people under the pressure to feed the world rather than just their little local community. This food system does not benefit the farmer, soil, the environment, the community around the farm or the local ecosystem. The people that benefit from the style of agriculture is a handful of large corporations that give farmers very little control over their farms. This food system we currently have is broken, it is toxic to the land, the farmer and the ecosystem that surrounds the farm land. Regenerative agriculture systems are what has come out of the reality that people that work land have a large role to play in mitigating climate chaos through the their farming practices. Keeping the soil covered and reducing deep tillage are a few of the ways farmers can do their part in drawing down carbon back into the soil. Achieving the goal of keeping the soil covered is going to be a little tricky but I love a challenge. Building soil and reducing tillage go hand-in-hand, therefore my farm will not have any deep tillage with machinery. Instead I will be doing everything by hand with a broad fork and small battery operated tilter that can only turn the top 2 inches of soil allowing me to seed fast germinating crops or transplant already established fast growing crops.
One goal I have for the farm is to grow it to the point where I can give others with a similar love for agriculture a place of employment that can offer a livable wage and a healthy working environment. Working on one of the few farms in town over the past 4 year I really got to see first hand the joy working the land brought to our volunteers. They would come multiple times every week to plant, harvest, wash and chat about food and agriculture. Toward the end of my time at Pariah Dog Farm we had about 10 volunteers that came when they could and 6 or so that came so constantly we became quite the machine. Those volunteers are still friends to this day and I feel so good that I could facilitate that experience for them. We really needed them as much as they needed us and we could not afford to pay staff. Hell, we hardly paid ourselves. With the knowledge that there such a large population in this area that are veterans or in recovery I hope that Feather Light Farms can be a platform for the meaningful work and hastening of healing processes that I so often experienced while farming after coming out of the military. I feel blessed to know that it is farming that provides me with a form of service that continues to give me so much motivation, satisfaction and joy, and its with this passion that I hope to teach, share and grow with my community...Without community what is the point!
All donations made to Feather Light Farms over $200 will receive a screen printed 13”x15” produce bag with Feather Light Farms logo on it that I hope you will be able to fill from the bulk greens bins I plan to sell to locally owned stores here in Falmouth.