Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Help wanted

A couple of weeks ago the family and I meandered our way over the mountains to Paonia for the Mountain Harvest Festival. We packed up our vintage Explorer RV, the S. S. Bill Murray, and camped out in the town park. My mom came up and drove us around to visit grandparents in the area. We picked tomatoes and hit up Taco Time and my Grandpa Harold loaded us up with boxloads of apples and pears.
In between I was there to sell yarny stuff at the bazaar part of the festival. I wasn't sure what to expect because I've never done a craft show on the Western Slope. The feedback was pretty awesome, though. And the sales weren't bad, either. I had my first real custom order and got to demo spin for a bit during the farmer's market.
And something practically magical happened. Myriem stopped by my table and mentioned that she was from White Buffalo Farm. I think I may have squeed out loud a little. Paonia is a small town and the odds are probably smaller than I'd like to admit, but it felt like kismet to have connected with her. I discovered the organic farm online, while looking up things like permaculture and intentional communities. Myriem and Wayne(the current owner) have a plan to create an ecovillage within the farm, a place where artisans can develop a bit of "community-sufficiency" while working on both their craft and the farm. I have been daydreaming about running away to live there, or someplace like there since the doldrum-y dead of last winter. Myriem and I got to talking and we ended up taking a tour of the farm the day after the festival was over. It's situated by the river like the orchard I grew up on, with Akane apples(my favorite) among several other types of fruit and veg. They have lots of exciting plans for the place, including cob house-building workshops and farm-to-table events. Wayne is retiring soon, but it's also really important to him to preserve the legacy of the place. I think it's terribly clever of them and I want my family to be a part of it.

So of course there's a hitch. When is there not a hitch? This one comes in the form of a payment due to the bank by next Monday. They've raised the majority of it, but still need to come up with about $12,000. Here's the plan, in the form of an email Myriem sent to me this morning:

Dear Friends of Desirea! : )

Come on out for this lovely week of blue skies and aspen colors!
On the farm, we harvest tomatoes last week and are now harvesting Asian Pears.

I would be delighted to take you on a tour now that we are making such headway!

As you know, I am fostering the conditions conducive for a farm-based ecovillage in our region! As I write, we are setting the groundwork for an on-farm transition team and putting together an informal advisory board. In order to complete this process, I have an urgent appeal!

We need to raise 12k by Monday.
We are seeking loans of 2k to 5k with 25% interest.
Folks are to send payment directly to our bank in Paonia for deposit.
Funds need to be mailed by Wednesday afternoon or wired TH or FR or even on MON.
If we don't reach our goal, we'll return the funds immediately.
The farm has equity of $1million from which we would pay off this loan.
The early freeze hit us hard last week on our tomato crop.
Please spread the word.
This funding allows us to continue with building a transition team and move in the direction of a farm-based ecovillage.

Please call for bank account number.

Paonia State Bank
128 Grand Ave
Paonia, CO 81428

Once past this immediate hurdle, I would like to create a farm-to-table dinner and present our plans to Slow Food and others in the Roaring Fork. I'm looking forward to creating an exquisite event rooted in my French heritage. Je suis francaise heureuse de vivre dans une region gastronomique du Colorado! Folks from all over are welcome!

With gratitude,

-- Myriem
Communications and Development
16877 Grange Road
Paonia, CO 81428

{What's in it for me?}
I mentioned a while back how I'd sometimes like to go home and this is one way of approximating that without condemning my kids to lonely-induced social awkwardness. I'd get to work on my fiber art and explore the other post-apocalyptic skill-set stuff I've been dipping my toes into all these years. Add community development to that and it's like I'd be doing my dream thesis in real life. "How do cultures on the verge of collapse perpetuate/preserve collected knowledge?" Let's find out! Then there's the potential for creating space for my mister to work on his guitar building thing and the Waldorf school down the road for the kids...

{What's in it for you?}
You mean, aside from the good, old-fashioned altruistic glow you'd get from doing an extra-good deed? When was the last time you were offered 25% interest on an investment? Or an invite to a picturesque, farm-fresh supper? Plus, if you happen to be of the notion that small farms are good and good food is hard to come by these days, this is an excellent opportunity to put some action where your heart is.

As I sit here on the floor of my kitchen, among the boxes and boxes of apples, pears and peppers we hauled home(I put up the last of the tomatoes yesterday), wishing I had a magic wand or maybe just better financial savvy, I'm also confronted with the possibility of making one dream into a reality, of flipping a lot of negative elements in our lives back into positive ones. Room to run, to develop my craft, to do work besides that I feel is meaningful. It's got some scary parts, too. There's a bit of risk involved in taking such a big leap. I'm willing to take it if it means getting to be a part of something so potentially amazing. But none of that can happen if there suddenly is no more White Buffalo Farm.

{More info on White Buffalo Farm}

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