Originally Posted at Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Most small businesses don’t have the credit and capital to weather the coronavirus pandemic. And the average small business has only enough cash in reserve to remain open for 27 days. For restaurants, it’s only 16 days; for retail shops, only 19. Being closed for weeks — or months — because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be devastating for hundreds of thousands of small businesses. Governments, foundations, and nonprofits everywhere are scrambling to help small businesses stay afloat during this crisis, but everyone can help. Here are some things you can do.
How You Can Support Our Locally Owned Businesses
By Food Connects
Food Connects is now over 75% of the way to its crowdfunding goal of $10,000 for our “Growing Local Food Markets in the Monadnock Region” campaign. This campaign, run through The Local Crowd Monadnock, aims to increase market access for local farmers and food producers.
Thanks to the generosity of over 50 donors, Food Connects raised $7,741 as of March 31. These funds will go towards implementing the first steps in Food Connects newly optimized food safety plan—covering the cost of the food safety certification and audit, the monthly fees for the Integrated Pest Management Program, staff training, and necessary cleaning and transportation supplies.
A large portion of these funds was raised through the Monadnock Food Co-op’s Round It Up program for March. Co-op customers had the opportunity to round up their change at the register for this campaign, resulting in $4,341.19. “We are so grateful for the incredible generosity of the community at the Monadnock Food Co-op,” says Richard Berkfield, Food Connects’ Executive Director. “These funds will help Food Connects develop the necessary infrastructure needed to sell to larger wholesale customers.”
The outbreak of COVID-19 has heightened the need for and awareness of supporting the local food economy. “Now, more than ever, it is important to strengthen our local food businesses,” says Berkfield. “Many food producers are seeing a loss of sales due to college and restaurant closures. Our campaign focuses on developing current and new markets to ensure that there is a broad and diverse set of customers always available to purchase local food. Resilient local food economies can weather the storm.”
Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, Food Connects is continuing on with its local food delivery. “The last three weeks we’ve seen a 50-80% increase in our local food sales,” says Alex McCullough, Food Hub Manager. “We are delivering food to local co-ops and markets, hospitals, school meal programs, and buying clubs in record numbers. This diverse group of customers is allowing us to continue supporting farmers and finding outlets for their food.”
A matching challenge is now in place. The Monadnock Food Co-op will match each donation to the Food Connects crowdfunding campaign dollar for dollar up to $500. Food Connects needs to raise $2,259 more by April 18.
Double Your Impact!
Despite these uncertain times, The Local Crowd Monadnock (TLC Monadnock), a community-based crowdfunding program, will continue its work to empower you to support the businesses, organizations, and initiatives that grow wealthier and healthier communities in our region. We’re also exploring innovative ways to best leverage our program to keep our community healthy and resilient.
“Crowdfunding is a great chance to keep forward momentum, to keep up the spirits of your community, and to make immediate positive economic impact locally,” said Emily Best of Seed & Spark Crowdfunding.
TLC Monadnock launched two campaigns this month. One campaign is for Food Connects, which distributes local food to wholesalers like the Monadnock Food Co-op. The other supports Keene Housing Kids Collaborative and helps mark their fifth year in our community. Learn more about these two campaigns and support them today. Whether you give $5 or $500, it all comes together to help make our community more local, green and fair!
Food Connects is an entrepreneurial non-profit on a mission to create healthy families, thriving farms and connected communities. They partner with local farmers and food producers like Frisky Cow Gelato, Echo Farm Puddings, and Picadilly Farm. In all, they source meat, dairy, produce and baked goods from over seventy producers throughout southern Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
With the help of Food Connects, these businesses share their bounty with schools, grocery stores, hospitals, restaurants and other businesses across our region. Overall, Food Connects wants to create a vibrant food economy and make local food accessible to all community members. To achieve this goal, local farmers and food producers need access to larger markets to scale up production and increase their revenue.
Expanding wholesale markets is challenging, especially when it comes to meeting the unique requirements of each wholesale customer. “Many large-scale, wholesale customers in the community can only purchase from a limited number of approved vendors,” says McKenna Hayes, Food Connects Food Hub Operations Manager. “It is difficult, if not impossible, for a small-scale, family-owned operation to become an approved vendor.”
Food Connects is working to solve this problem by becoming an approved vendor for larger customers, allowing schools, grocery stores, hospitals and restaurants to easily purchase from local farmers and producers who sell through Food Connects.
That’s where you come in! Campaign supporters will empower Food Connects to develop formal food safety procedures and purchase the supplies they need to obtain a third-party food safety certification. Join us and make it easier to buy and sell local food in our community. Food Connects “Growing Local Food Markets in the Monadnock Region” crowdfunding campaign is well on the way to meeting its fundraising goal of $10,000. As of today, their fundraising total surpassed $7,500!
Visit Food Connects’ crowdfunding page. Give at certain levels and claim a great reward (or two) while they last. Rewards include Brewbakers Café gift certificates, Frisky Cow gelato and more. This crowdfunding campaign ends on April 18. Or you can round up your change for this campaign at the Monadnock Food Co-op until March 31.
The Local Crowd Monadnock’s second crowdfunding campaign supports Keene Housing Kids Collaborative. Keene Housing Kids Collaborative gives kids living in Keene Housing households the chance to participate in activities in our community that will help them succeed.
“The children in our community are the next generation of workers, parents and community leaders. But not all kids have an equal start in life because their families struggle financially to get by,” said Liz Chipman, executive director of Keene Housing Kids Collaborative. “Investing in children is investing in the future of our community.”
Our community benefits when all children have an equal chance to be an active part of that community. Help Keene Housing Kids Collaborative celebrate their fifth birthday by supporting them with a contribution of $5 or more. By giving a little, you can help out a lot.
“We believe kids, wherever they live, should be part of the community, not apart from the community. That’s why we don’t have centralized programming on-site at Keene Housing properties,” shared Liz. “Instead, we partner with community organizations that are already providing excellent programming for kids.”
Visit the “Helping Kids Access Success” campaign page. This campaign also offers fantastic rewards for giving at certain levels like lessons from Kickboxing Keene and True Hope Therapeutic Horsemanship. This crowdfunding campaign ends on April 2.
Watch for more crowdfunding campaigns at tlcmonadnock.com. Be well, everyone!
TLC Monadnock is a community-based crowdfunding platform that empowers individuals to support the businesses, organizations and initiatives that grow wealthier and healthier communities in our region. Crowdfunding, or the practice of raising funds from a large number of people to support a local project, is a viable alternative to recruiting businesses from outside the region to boost economic activity.
TLC Monadnock is currently hosted by Monadnock Food Co-op and supported by the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, New Hampshire Small Business Development Center and Monadnock Economic Development Corporation. Have questions? Please contact TLC Monadnock at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-283-5401.
We know that these are trying times for our community. Local businesses and food producers are struggling with the loss of sales. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we support and grow local food infrastructure. Resilient local food economies can weather the storm.
In light of the outbreak of COVID-19, we wanted to share with you what Food Connects continues to do to keep our communities safe, support local food producers, and feed our neighbors. Our Food Hub is working diligently to modify and reduce our direct contact with customers and producers, limiting the amount of exposure we have with individuals to ensure the safety of our staff, customers, producers, and the food we provide—while still getting food to grocery stores and school meal programs providing breakfast and lunch to hungry students. Our larger Food Connects team is telecommuting and working with local and statewide partners to respond to the needs of our community and provide vital resources and assistance.
We want to thank those who have supported our campaign to get us to over 40% of our goal. We ask that you continue to share and support this campaign to help us achieve our goals of healthy families, thriving farms, and connects communities.
In the meantime, we ask that you continue to be a champion for local food. Ordering takeout or delivery from local restaurants helps them stay in business. Purchasing locally-grown produce at your neighboring co-op ensures that farms in our region can still thrive. Donating to food banks, school meal programs, and other meal delivery service non-profits guarantees our neighbors are not hungry.
Despite these uncertain times, The Local Crowd Monadnock (TLC Monadnock), a community-based crowdfunding program, will continue its work to empower you to support the businesses, organizations, and initiatives that grow wealthier and healthier communities in our region.
We’re also exploring innovative ways to best leverage our program to keep our community healthy and resilient during the COVID-19 crises.
“Crowdfunding is a great chance to keep forward momentum, to keep up the spirits of your community, and to make immediate positive economic impact locally,” said Emily Best of Seed & Spark Crowdfunding. “Our current data shows no sign of slowing.”
Please share your ideas with us -- here's what we've gathered so far:
Also, please keep the forward momentum going!
Support our latest crowdfunding campaign from Food Connects on The Local Crowd Monadnock.
Originally published in Monadnock Shopper News
Spring is an ideal time to begin to shift your family’s eating habits to more locally grown food. How do you make this shift without driving up your food expenses? Even before the bounty of the growing season begins to trickle in, you can take action now to save later. Here are seven tips to help you eat local on a budget. The benefits ripple out from you and your family to our whole local economy!
This first tip may seem obvious, but establishing goals helps you empower yourself to make a change. Create an entire food budget for a week or a month. Then, set a goal for how much you plan to spend on locally grown and locally produced food. Start small. As you gain experience and success (and the season progresses), shift more of your spending to local food.
Community Supported Agriculture, better known as a CSA, works like this: an individual or family pre-orders a share of the harvest from a farmer before the growing season begins. This model provides farmers with cash upfront to help pay for seeds, compost, and other needed supplies for the coming growing season. As a CSA member, individuals receive more value for their dollar and cultivate a closer connection to a farm. Members also broaden their palette for local food, trying different types of produce in new ways thanks to recipe suggestions from the farmer and fellow CSA members. Find a CSA Farm near you.
Explore multiple CSAs at the upcoming Monadnock Region CSA Fair on Sunday, March 8, from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the Monadnock Food Co-op’s café in Keene.
Farmers Frank Hunter, Kim Peavey and their daughter Gwen at a past Monadnock Region CSA Fair. They own Hillside Springs Farm in Westmoreland. Meet Frank, Kim and more CSA farmers at the next Monadnock Region CSA Fair on March 8 from 2 – 5 p.m. at the Monadnock Food Co-op’s café in Keene.
Find out how your favorite grocery store or market labels locally grown and made food and then check to see which of these items are on sale. The Monadnock Food Co-op makes it easy to eat local on a budget by labeling local items on their “MFC Deals” Sales Flyer with a bright orange icon. See their latest sales flyer.
Starting in April, visit your local farmers’ market and farm stands see what’s abundant. As specific fruits and vegetables become more plentiful, prices tend to go down for that type of produce. Talk to the farmers and local food vendors and ask them what’s the best value of the day. On days when there isn’t a market open, keep what’s in season in mind as you make your purchases at local grocery stores. Find a farmers’ market near you. Put the first Farmers’ Market Opening Day in our region on your calendar: The Peterborough Farmers Market at the Peterborough Community Center starts on April 1 from 3 – 6 p.m.
Have something that your family just can’t eat enough of? Your own yard may be a great place to grow something your family loves. Like with your budget, start small with a modest plot or container. Herbs and sprouts are great first options. Check out UNH Cooperative Extension for gardening resources at extension.unh.edu/gardening-resources Sign up a free Seed Starting workshop on Saturday, March 7 from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. at the Keene Public Library.
Cooking in batches and freezing meals for later is a critical strategy to eat local on a budget. Find a cookbook or online recipe site that features seasonal fruits and vegetables. My favorite resource is Farmer John’s Cookbook by John Peterson and Angelica Organics. Recipes are grouped by season with storage tips and culinary uses for each type of produce. One of my favorites recipes, hands-down, is Spiced Parsnip Cake.
You’ve spent well-earned money on fruits and vegetables that are grown and processed with lots of love and care, now make sure this food lasts. Find out the best way to store and preserve your food.
Here’s a bonus tip: If you or someone you know receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, please be sure to check out the Granite State Market Match Program and the Monadnock Food Co-op’s Double Up Food Bucks Program. These programs double the purchasing power of participants’ SNAP benefits – providing fresh fruits and vegetables at a 50% discount! Learn more at granitestatemarketmatch.org and monadnockfood.coop/doubleup.
Here’s to your success – and the success of our local farmers, food producers, and local economy as we all shift to eating more locally grown and made food.
Originally published in the Monadnock Shopper News
It’s been seven years since I first wrote about Community Supported Enterprises (CSE), where individuals contribute money to a business and receive products or services — for themselves or their community — sometime in the future. It’s time to dust off that article and highlight some new CSE examples both near and far. I’d love to see more entrepreneurs in our region explore the CSE model as a tool for financing their business while strengthening community.
You may be familiar with one type of CSE, Community Supported Agriculture, but there are also CSBs, CSFs, CSRs and more — a whole alphabet soup of community support.
First, a refresher on the CSA model. Community Supported Agriculture works like this: an individual or family purchases a share from a farmer — before the growing season begins — in exchange for a portion of the harvest usually picked up weekly. This model provides farmers with cash upfront to help pay for seeds, compost and other needed supplies for the coming growing season.
As a CSA member, individuals cultivate a closer connection to a farmer and experience some of the realities of farming — how weather, disease and other variables affect crop quantities and quality, and how much work goes into bringing food from the farm to the plate. Members also broaden their palette for local food, trying different types of produce in new ways thanks to recipe suggestions from the farmer and fellow CSA members.
Another brand of CSA is Community Supported Art. Locally, the now-closed Sharon Arts Center offered CSA shares back in 2013. Beyond our state lines, ArtCrop in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, MN provides a unique CSA example. ArtCrop combines two types of CSAs (art and agriculture) into one by partnering with Hmong American Farmers Association farmers and local Hmong artists to offer shares of both art and food to its members.
From ArtCrop’s website (artcrop.co): “Traditionally, Hmong farmers turned to their artistry in the winter months. Farmers were artists. Artists were farmers. From handmade textile and crafts to hand-grown foods that create our own distinct flavors and recipes, Hmong people have always captured our journeys through art and farming. When you sign up to join the CSA, you’re not only lifting up over 130 Hmong farmers and artists; you’re also building up wealth, community and culture for future generations.”
Interested in exploring Community Support Art more? Download this toolkit.
Moving on now to a CSB or Community Supported Brewery, Mobcraft Beer in Milwaukee, WI asks individuals to submit their favorite beer ideas. The brewers figure out the recipes, post each idea on their website and then put it out for a vote. Individuals cast their votes by making a pre-order of their favorites. The recipe with the most pre-orders gets made and those that pre-ordered get a pack of that batch. Learn more.
Here’s the next CSE model: Community Supported Fisheries. Instead of a share of produce, CSF members receive — you guessed it — fish! (And other seafood too.) In New Hampshire, 98% of fish caught along our 13 miles of seacoast leaves the state. A CSF in Portsmouth, called New Hampshire Community Seafood, is working to change this statistic by connecting fisheries directly to NH eaters. NH Community Seafood also tries to drive consumer demand towards more sustainable types of fish. They encourage CSF members to try dogfish — a fish popular in Britain as “Fish and Chips” — by adding it to members’ weekly share along with information and recipes about this fish species. Read more.
A CSO is a Community Supported Organizer. Back in 2015, Carlo Voli worked as a CSO to push back on fossil fuels and climate change. Twenty-six supporters contributed $10-$150 a month to back Carlo’s efforts. The funding empowered him to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. The Backbone Campaign, an organization that promotes CSOs, explains, “Being a CSO provides a way for a self-directed change agent to be innovative and responsive to emergent opportunities. They are not constrained by an organizational bureaucracy directed from afar. They are not locked into an inflexible plan or narrow mission. A CSO is accountable only to a diverse community of sustaining donors from whom they crowdsource recurring donations.” Discover more.
Next up, Community Supported Restaurants. (It sure is hard to steer far from food when talking about Community Supported Enterprises!) The Gleanery in Putney, VT is one nearby example. Before opening, The Gleanery asked individuals to purchase CSR shares to provide start-up capital for this business. Members, in turn, received monthly food credits. View more.
Finally, we turn to Community Supported Retail. In the Adirondacks of New York State there’s a department store called The Village Mercantile supported by 700+ individuals who bought shares in the company for $100 each. When the Ames Store in their town closed, community members came together to fill a void (the nearest department store was 50 miles away). “[We wanted to] take control of our future and help our community,” said Melinda Little, Founding Board Member of The Village Mercantile. “The idea was, this is an investment in the community as well as the store.” The community opened its 4,000 square foot store in 2011. Learn more.
Now we ask you: What needs could a Community Supported Enterprises meet in our community? Which existing CSEs could you support more? CSEs are really about community supporting community — and in the words of Wendell Berry, “A good community insures itself by trust, by good faith and good will, by mutual help. A good community, in other words, is a good local economy.” Let’s build that good local economy together.
Originally Published in the Monadnock Shopper News
This Valentine’s Day show your “local love” — love for your sweetie and your whole community — by purchasing gifts (or gift-making supplies) and meals (or ingredients) at locally owned businesses. Last year, Americans spent $20.7 billion on Valentine’s Day. Imagine if we shifted some of that spending to locally owned businesses!
“Talk about a sweetheart gift! If every family in the country shifted $100 of their Valentine’s Day shopping budget to locally owned, independent businesses over $7.8 billion would be directly returned to local communities,” shared our friends at Independent We Stand.
Locally owned businesses offer us much to love. They strengthen our local economy, culture and wellbeing. Independent businesses re-circulate four times more money in our community than chain stores. Moreover, studies show that most new jobs are created by small businesses — meaning today’s local Valentines are tomorrow’s jobs.
Here are some extra special ways to show your local love this Valentine’s Day:
So, show lots of local love this Valentine’s Day, and the love will circle back to you, your loved ones and — best of all — your entire community.
We’re not sure. We'd love to see our region develop a set of Community Economic Development indicators that measure how well our regional economy is working for all people and business types.
From Economist Michael H. Shuman:
We then launched four surveys for different stakeholders (from entrepreneurs to service providers) to help us evaluate the impact of our CED initiatives.
While we need more participation to draw any statistically significant results, the answers we received pointed to some needed next steps:
Only 52% of survey respondents agreed that our region had a compelling vision for Community Economic Development. This leads us to want to better promote the current Southwest Region Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and Monadnock Region Future Plan from Southwest Region Planning Commission (SWRPC).
A successful CED program must begin with a vision statement about its goals, one that is rooted in a serious community process. We want to support the work of SWRPC and the next strategy update to ensure that clearer indicators are identified and added to our plans.
Just 20% of survey respondents agree that our region has set clear indicators to measure whether we are reaching our CED goals.
A successful CED program will have empirical indicators, updated regularly, that provide understandable information about whether the vision is being realized.
Interested in moving this work forward? Please contact us today!
The Local Crowd Monadnock - Mailing Address: 63 Emerald St. #114, Keene, NH 03431