GOOD: Crowdfunding Meets Small-Scale Farming

“Check out my Kickstarter page! If you donate, I’ll send you some fresh cheese. If you tweet about it, you’ll get a wool cap.”

I either love this or think it’s a really bad idea.

Good reports:

“Farmhopping is the brainchild of recent business school graduate Rossi Mitova, a 25-year-old extreme skier and self-proclaimed ‘city girl’ who only recently fell for the charms of the countryside. “A friend of mine bought some animals on a farm in Bulgaria and started taking care of them,’ she tells me. ‘We started visiting the farm and getting freshmade yogurt and milking the animals and stuff.’

It wasn’t easy to explain the concept to the farmer Todor Georgiev, who runs Perun. Fanatical about protecting Bulgaria’s endangered heritage breeds—including Karakachan sheep and long-haired mountain goats—he’s less connected to the latest internet trends. ‘He’s not at all digitally savvy. It takes him, like, an hour to take upload and send us some pictures.’ Also tricky was explaining concepts like ‘crowdfunding’ and ‘collaborative consumption’ to a farmer from the old school, but according to Mitova, Georgiev is really excited, not just for the “finances but also about connecting with people around the world.’

Georgiev’s farm will be Farmhopping’s test run and will let supporters pay 20 pounds upfront plus a monthly fee to ‘buy’ a sheep and decide whether the animal should be used for milking or to help expand the herd.

It’s an important decision on a farm whose mission is to make dairy but also to increase the ranks of endangered heritage breeds. (Animals that get milked produce less offspring, says Mitova). For the farmer, the financial incentive has to add up to make ceding some control to the public worthwhile, but if the idea catches on, the potential for revenue is huge (Perun plans to put 250 sheep up ‘for sale.’) Other rewards would include a box of cheese that could be shipped anywhere in Europe, the chance to stay overnight on the farm, or regular produce shipments for people living close by.”

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