An incubator farm in Cabarrus County, NC, is fighting for its existence since being taken over this year by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.
The Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm was first created in 2008 as a partnership of Cabarrus County and the NC Cooperative Extension – Cabarrus Center.
The farm is the first certified organic incubator farm in the Southeast.
Incubator farms work to educate new farmers about the production of food and the business of agriculture. The Lomax program has graduated 10 farmers so far with more expected in the future.
The farm was defunded earlier this year. Since then, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association took over funding of the farm through the end of 2014. At the Sustainable Agriculture Convention, convention organizers told attendees about the farm’s plight.
But, since the non-profit’s budget wasn’t slated for the expense, they won’t have enough money to fund it starting in 2015.
CFSA and others partnered with Barnraiser.us, a crowdfunding site specializing in agricultural projects and businesses.
They’re attempting to raise $25,000 to fund the program through the first quarter of next year. Advocates for the farm say they’ll be seeking other ways to fund the farm after that quarter ends and are already working to secure those funds now.
“I don’t recommend a crowdfunding campaign for the weak of heart,” Elizabeth Read, Communications and Development Director of the CFSA, said.
While the crowdfunding program is going well (as of Nov. 18, the campaign has raised more than $17,000). If they don’t meet their goal by the end of the campaign, they won’t get any of the money.
Scott Avett, a performing artist with the Avett Brothers, has helped with the campaign (see the video below) to help raise money and awareness but they still need more. The Avett Brothers are originally from Concord, NC, where the farm is located.
The farm consists of 30.6 acres of land donated by Elma C. Lomax.
The land is owned by the county. When the county defunded it, according to Aaron Newton, former farm manager and employee of the CFSA, buildings and tools were actually locked up.
Farmers were forbidden to enter the property, leaving a harvest to rot in the field.
Newton, incubator farmers and the CFSA worked to reopen the farm. It’s been in operation since then.
The farm requires approximately $100,000 annually to remain in operation.
Watch a video about the farm below:
To learn more about the CFSA click here.
To see more coverage from the Sustainable Agriculture Conference, click here.