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Crowdfunding in Birmingham: Local agriculture project hopes to expand community farm

posted Jul 10, 2014, 11:24 PM by Siamak Ebarhimi

People across the county rallied around a man's Kickstarter quest to make potato salad. But if you prefer a cause a little more local and philanthropic, there are options right in Birmingham.

The Magic City Agriculture Project launched an Indiegogo campaign last Sunday. The organization manage multiple projects to accomplish its diverse goals, including growing new food supplies to improve food desserts in the city, teaching youth community organizing skills and creating cooperative work spaces in community.

The Indiegogo campaign hopes to raise $1,500 by August 26. The funds will help expand and stabilize one of the Magic City Agriculture Project programs, the Southwest Birmingham Community Farm.Kickstarter Marketing

 "This is the first year we're having multiple growing seasons, so through this Indiegogo campaign and this fund we believe we can make it financially sustainable," Executive Director Robert Burton said.

The3,100 square foot farm is located in the Hillman community and doubles as youth training center. It was co-founded with Project Hopewell, Inc., a faith-based nonprofit in the community, Burton said. The campaign would allow Magic City Agriculture Project to hire and pay four part-time youth workers as well as buy equipment such as a better irrigation system.CrowdFunding marketing

Crops from the farm are distributed to the community and to another Magic City Agriculture Project program, the Bessemer Farmers Market.

The Indiegogo campaign is only one part of a multi-pronged fundraising effort for the farm. The Magic City Agriculture Project hopes the crowdfunding effort will raise $1,500, or a third of their target goal of $4,600.

A fundraiser event featuring performances from local bands and spoken word poets at the Foreign Exchange on July 26 aims to raise another third. Other fundraising efforts such as an event at University of Alabama will collectively raise the last third.CrowdFunding advertizing

"With that we'll be able to finish purchasing the necessary tools and equipment that we want, that we need for the training center to move it into its next stage," Burton said.

"We have this event and you can come to this actual event, and that shows a particular level of buy-in that people may be more apt to support than an online campaign," Burton said. "It gives people more avenues and more ways to support."The Magic City Agriculture Project sees the Indiegogo campaign as a way to reach people who cannot attend the Foreign Exchange event or live outside the area, Burton said. Having in-person events also helps bring the community together.kickstarter project

The Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network supports the Magic City Agriculture Project and other state agriculture efforts. Alice Evans, the executive director of the network, said she has been impressed by the project's methods.kickstarter marketing

"The folks that I know through the Southwest Birmingham Community Farm are really savvy folks," Evans said.  "They know their community, they know the people in their community, and they're really passionate about working from within to build it up."indiegogo marketing

The Magic City Agriculture Project set themselves apart from other agriculture projects in Alabama by being so deeply rooted in their communities and working with the resources and people already there, Evans said.

"It's really grassroots in a powerful way in that way," Evans said.crowdfunding advertising

The Indiegogo campaign for the Magic City Agriculture Project has 49 days remaining. The organization offers perks such as newsletters and t-shirts for various amounts of donations.crowdfunding marketing

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By David Khorram