Our vendor Whitewater Gardens Farm is facing some dramatic challenges this season, and they've reached out on GoFundMe for your support.
As with many of their experiences, Lonny and Sandy Dietz are using this situation to share and educate others about the challenges of farming and the courage in asking for help.
This article from Rochester's Post-Bulletin explains how a series of setbacks have increased the debt burden of the farm and raised possibility of bankruptcy. Through the community support and creative thinking, they hope to save the farm and continue a more than 20 year legacy of growing great food and offering education and leadership in the Minnesota farming community.
Reaching out for support is the farm's most recent step in problem solving. In the words of the article, "crowd-funding is simply a modern expression of a long-standing tradition in the agricultural community, coming to the aid of neighbors in need."
Lonny and Sandy have shared much of their story on Facebook, saying:
"It is so humbling to see the support that we are getting from our community. We are honored to be part of this issue that needs to help raise the awareness of what the farming community is faced with. Most small businesses ... do not go public when there is a financial crisis. We usually find out when there is an auction or ... a rise in suicides."
About the success of their farm, they say "We have been able to raise the organic matter in the soil by over 2% which helps reduce runoff and sequester carbon, restored 15 acres of native prairie to help beneficial and pollinator insects, and planted 5 acres of hardwoods for wildlife. We have been on the farm without any off farm income for the past 18 years and have enjoyed growing food for our customers and treasure the time that we have with them at the markets."
We ask that you take a moment to appreciate the hard work and uncertain circumstances our farmers face. Whether you choose to support Whitewater Gardens Farm directly (donate HERE), or simply commit to choosing a few more local products this summer or listening to the story of a small farmer, know that your support is dearly appreciated.