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FarmRaiser Launches Pilot Program in Northern Michigan

October 4, 2013
FarmRaiser Launches Pilot Program in Northern Michigan

A new startup aims to replace those traditional pizza or wreath school fundraisers by connecting local farmers and foods with schools.

FarmRaiser launched a pilot program just weeks ago in Traverse City – just in time for Farm-To-School Month, a nationwide celebration throughout October.

Mark Abbott and Digvijay Chauhan, both local food movement advocates, launched the company this spring in Flint. The program connects local farmers and artisan food producers with school and civic groups conducting student-led fundraisers.

“A few weeks ago, I went in to a school that we’re hosting a sale with and brainstormed with the entire student body about what products they know of that exist in their community that they would then be interested in selling,” says Christina Carson, FarmRaiser’s Traverse City campaign coordinator. “It gives the students some ownership over the sale and derives some excitement to go out and sell those products.”

After brainstorming, groups pick products to sell from a myriad of options and hit the ground running, utilizing an online system supported by the non-profit LocalImpact to track their progress. Campaigns generally run 7 to 21 days and are facilitated by Carson. Currently, four campaigns are running statewide, with more to come during the pre-Christmas, post-holiday, and spring seasons.

Service-learning opportunities are also made available to teachers in order to connect their fundraisers to classroom curricula.

“No other fundraising company does this,” Carson adds. “It makes it easier for teachers to allocate classroom time to fundraisers if they can connect it with their curriculum.”

School groups and classrooms are also encouraged to visit participating farms and facilities in order to get a better understanding of the entire process.

“The students have a personal stake in what they’re selling because they saw it growing or being produced prior to holding it in their hands,” Carson says.

Carson says that most national fundraising programs return 20-40 percent of funds raised back to the school or group. FarmRaiser’s system allows 45 percent of funds raised to get back into the school’s pocket, something she says is achieved through lower overhead and administrative costs.

“We work with vendors to help them determine how much they sell their products to us for, reminding them that this is an innovative way for them to gain exposure for their products,” Carson says.

In northern Michigan, FarmRaiser has already partnered with several local farms, as well as Higher Grounds, Esch Road jams, and Food for Thought. Campaigns this fall and winter will include apples, pie pumpkins, winter squash, and honey, all of which are available in large quantities.

The organization’s goal is to source products from within 25 miles of the school that is hosting the campaign. Packaged, shelf-stable products that are easier to ship and move around will be sourced from within the state, while fresh produce will come from closer to the schools.
 


Most Recent Comments

 
Susan Yeotis on October 7, 2013 7:24pm

I would love to see this spread to Scouts, Boosters, etc. I do not feel guilty (well maybe a little) when I do not purchase cookies, candy or popcorn when going to the grocery store!

Tom E. on October 5, 2013 12:51pm

An Amazing, healthy and educational concept. No mas candy!

Mike Davis on October 4, 2013 10:23pm

The FarmRaiser concept is a great one, and Christina Carson will provide outstanding leadership. Best wishes!

Kate on October 4, 2013 12:25pm

EXCELLENT!!

Christina Carson on October 4, 2013 12:07pm

Hi Folks!

Thanks so much for all the kind words. If you're interested in participating, or know someone who might want to get involved, please contact me via email (christina@farmraiser.com) or phone (231.714.9712).

You can also connect with us and show your support by liking us on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Farmraiser/439767626076608

Best,
Christina Carson
Campaign Coordinator
FarmRaiser

Becca on October 4, 2013 11:44am

i would definitely be more likely to buy that then the candy stuff. since we don't eat much junk food at home. plus its local/michigan made that is a win/win for our state and us.

Hi Stover on October 4, 2013 11:11am

Outstanding!!

Terry on October 4, 2013 10:54am

Fantastic idea! I for one am tired of the same old-same old. Be sure to make the fundraiser known to those of us who do not have kids in school, but would like to participate.

Deb on October 4, 2013 10:02am

Hats off to all that brought this idea to fruition ( pardon the pun). It's nice to see a sensible concept come along in this world of cookie cutter marketing schemes. It's a win/win and I won't miss the microwave popcorn.

Local mom on October 4, 2013 9:33am

Great idea! There are so many great things about this... parents will be able to buy things we can actually use, we can buy things that are healthy, our local community will benefit and it will show our children about supply/demand, community involvement and ownership. So very excited for this!!

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