Native Offerings Farm Rebuild
Feb 11, 2019 Update - It's the time of year when seeds and supplies are arriving. As always we are looking forward to the start of the new growing season, particularly this one! We have been taking registration forms for our shares. Anyone interested in joining NOF's CSA for a Summer, Season Extension or Fruit Share can go to nativeofferings.com to sign up. We didn't want to commit to providing our Winter Share until our barn and storage space is built.
We are making progress: we picked up a basket weeder and a flame weeder, and we ordered a new vacuum seeder for our small seeded crops like arugula. The barn design is still being worked on and our research is honing what will shape this space. The John Deere Tractor that Stew is standing next to is the tractor that survived the fire.
We feel positive about the upcoming season. Maybe this has something to do with the longer days?? Mostly, I think it's because we feel supported within our community and for this we are undoubtedly grateful.
In other news, we have been approved to be a research partner with NY Agriculture and Markets to grow certified organic hemp. Hemp gives us a new crop to add to our rotation. As of Feb 4th, we are now registered with NYS to sell nursery stock. This allows us to sell live Certified Organic vegetable and herb plants at the Elmwood Village Farmers Market.
We have received additional monies from outside donations and fund raisers. $1,480 has come in to us with the receipt of our registration forms for farm shares for the 2019 seasons. Also, thanks go out to Donna and David Dye-Sholk who had their own 'Raise the Barn BBQ' fundraiser which raised $1,100 as of Feb 7th. The Bread Hive also made a sizable donation for which we are very grateful.
Lastly, the Barrell Factory has been booked for a fundraising event on the evening of March 31st. Local restaurants, basket raffles, and local bands will be present. A big thank you to Tara Laurenzi for booking this event!
Jan 16, 2019 Update - We have ordered a new seeder and transplanter and both will arrive in the Spring. We also ordered seed for the upcoming CSA season. The foundation of the old barn has been completely cleared and removed (except for a few parts that we are salvaging which we may build into small storage spaces). Next on the agenda is to design a wash/packing facility prior to re-building. A big thank you goes out to Gwen Howard of Foit Albert Associates for her architectural guidance in this early planning stage and to Mark Alianello of MDA Consulting Engineers for mapping out our old barn and plotting out a topo map of the site. We will be working with Gwen and Mark to develop the site plan for the new facility. Both of these folks have graciously volunteered their time.
Since our last update, an additional $5,000 has been received in letters sent directly to the farm. We are still working on setting a venue for a benefit, we'll update you as soon as we have a time and place set. Thanks again to everyone!
Jan 4, 2019 Update - The base of the new barn has been cleared of the debris from the fire. We are removing the old foundation and preparing the site for the new barn. Bids are currently being accepted and reviewed.
Before I provide anymore information, Stew and I would like to state that we are so grateful for the Lexington Co-op board, staff and members. They have raised over $11,000 on our behalf and we cannot express our gratitude nearly enough for all of their help, campaigning, encouragement, and support. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the depths of our hearts!
Along those lines, there have been a few area farmers who, in the first days after the fire, reached out to us in a way we never, ever expected. Because over 80% of our crops were burned in the fire, we contacted them hoping they had extra crops they could sell us so that we could use them at our distribution sites (Amherst, Buffalo, and Orchard Park). When we went to pick up the crops from Porter Farms and Root Down Farm, they would not let us pay for the crops! Platodale Farm, Promised Land CSA, Rusty Bucket Mushrooms, and Canticle Farms all donated crops to us in those first couple of weeks after the fire to allow us to continue the CSA deliveries to our distribution sites!!!
If I told you we were amazed, stunned, moved to tears mixed with smiles and laughter by the outpouring of support from so many, well...those words would fall short in conveying how we feel inside.
So, to everyone, a big hug! A big thank you! And that just doesn't seem to be enough.
Now, on to a question that has been raised a few times. Insurance. We had insurance coverage and do still. We were informed that our coverage would cover buildings, equipment and tools. We found out that only the barn and three tractors were covered. The insurance company has agreed to give us $145,000 to replace the barn. We will do just that but with many modifications that we will let you know about as we proceed. We also had coverage for some of the crop we lost. We have received enough insurance money to be able to purchase crops from other area organic growers. This helps us fill some of our Winter CSA share. Thank goodness!
We will be posting in the next week a list of the equipment that needs to be replaced, the cost of it, and the time frame needed on the farm. All of these items are, unfortunately, uninsured. GoFundMe donations have been critical in helping us pay for the cost of cleaning out scrap metal and removing waste from the burn site. These funds were also how we purchased a Kubota cultivating tractor, a few power tools that we used for demolition/repair and a generator that kept our cooler running before emergency electric service was established.
We have carefully looked at how we can still farm successfully with less and after reviewing for the 3rd and 4th time all of the uninsured equipment and tools lost, we have come up with a more realistic fundraising amount. Therefore, we have lowered our estimate of the amount of money needed to $120,000 from the original $150k. That means we are 50% of the way towards completing our goal! We are very excited about this because this has occurred in only 4 weeks. We started the fund raising campaign on Dec 2nd and it's only been a month since then!
We have a ways to go yet and have some events planned that we will announce as soon as we finalize a few details. We are excited by the creative ideas people have been submitting and the possibilities these could lead to. So, please, stay tuned. I will provide another update next week.
Dec 27, 2018 Update - $36,035 has been raised on GoFundMe and $17,000 directly of the $150,000 in uninsured losses. So, a total of $53,000 has been raised. We have much to do and a lot more work to get this farm operational. Please help as you can. We are grateful for anything you offer.
Wednesday evening, Nov 28th 2018, one of our local CSA’s, Native Offerings Farm had a devastating fire. Their beautiful 1900’s barn, 1980’s wash house, storage cooler and storage room, germination room, 6 out of 7 tractors, most of the tools and equipment, and 80% of their winter storage crop were destroyed. Twenty-five years of farming, equipment, and tools, and fifteen years of improvements were lost in under two hours. They are tasked with starting over again.
An out-of-pocket amount of $150,000 in uninsured losses is needed to re-build, purchase equipment and tools, and resume operations. An itemized non-insured list is being compiled and will be posted on the FaceBook site. The monies are needed now so that Stew and Deb can resume operations by late Winter 2019 and be ready for the 2019 growing season. If you want to help Deb and Stew in ways additional to the monies requested and you have skills that can help them re-build, please contact: Deb@NativeOfferings.com.
On the upside, insurance will help to rebuild the barn and replace three of the tractors. It will also provide funds to purchase lost crops so that the farm share program may continue uninterrupted.
Updates will be provided on the Native Offerings FaceBook page.
As community members, we are taking the steps to help Stew and Deb re-build and continue their operations without pause. We love what they have done for not only us as share holders, but as the initiators and trainers of many other CSA Owners in WNY.
Please, in whatever manner or amount, contribute to help them rebuild. You may donate any amount you wish. You may also donate a specific amount based on the forthcoming list to be published. Any amount is much appreciated.
Lastly, your well-wishes, your uplifting thoughts, and your prayers of support are all received and felt with open hearts as Stew and Deb move forward in their dream to keep this farm alive, thriving, and even better than it has ever been.
I love seeing these $5 and $20 donations rolling in. Of course, the more the better, but donating a small amount, no matter what it is, raises the total. We're going to help these guys. Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read about the fire, to spread the word about what you've heard, and to donate if you can.