Farm to Cafeteria reaches its goal… and then some

By Madie Murray

By the strike of midnight on Saturday, November 30 when the campaign officially ended, the Farm to Cafeteria “Edible Eats and Education” crowd-funder on indiegogo.com reached its matching goal of $11,000 and exceeded it by another $1,227 because of 155 individuals contributing from $10 to $1,000 online – some as far away as Canada, Australia and Hawaii.

Prior to the launch of the online fundraiser, a group of amazing people agreed to match our online goal of $11,000.  That group included Joe Cohen and Martha Farish, Dave Abrams, Bob and Phyllis Henigson, a matching Microsoft allocation, Janet Brownell and Lance Evans, and others.  The fundraiser was twice as successful because of these wonderful people.   Another 14 contributed by check which brought the grand total raised to $23,662!   It was an amazing ride and my appreciation for each and every person involved is immense.

This was the biggest single and most significant fundraiser ever launched for the Orcas Island Farm to Cafeteria Program.  We are now able to purchase more produce, fruits and meats from our own local farms, increase the hours of our garden keeper and create more learning opportunities in our expanded school garden.

Now, about the anatomy part… I thought it was going to be a piece of cake to put together and much easier to execute than a physically-exhausting fundraising event.  Wrong!  But, for the time and energy put in, the result was great.  It also brought me closer to some amazing people, and I met individuals on a personal level that had a passion for our program I would never have known otherwise.  It was enlightening, challenging, inspiring and humbling.

To the best of my knowledge, F2C/OIEF was the first Orcas nonprofit to use crowd-funding to acquire a significant amount of money for the cause. Crowd-funding is only about 4 years old but has caught on like wildfire.  I suspect it will become the norm soon because it provides a platform that reaches far and beyond the shores of Orcas.  It’s ingenious and ingenuous.   There is a huge, untapped reservoir of individuals, wealthy and not-so-wealthy, who just want to help people and projects that otherwise would not have the resources to find them.

Even through I had many sleepless nights wondering if it would fail or succeed, the experience outweighed the angst.  That’s not to say crowd-funders don’t fail…quite the contrary.  But ours was worth the risk.  However, I sincerely hope it never replaces the warm, fun, community events we all love to lament.