Fed Up With Fundraising

September 3, 2015 / All, Family and Community Health, Healthy Fundraising Ideas / Comments: 0

Two articles made their way around social media last week that left me feeling pretty good about the mission and timing of FarmRaiser.

First was the Texas PTA fundraiser that went viral on Facebook because it struck a nerve with parents everywhere. Its message: We hate school fundraising, but we want to help our school.

FarmRaiser exists to solve the problems highlighted in that PTA flyer:

  1. We always offer a cash donation option for supporters who don’t want to try local products.
  2. We make student participation optional—our email and Facebook campaigns rock!
  3. We leave 85+% of the proceeds from every sale in the community—FarmRaisers are fundamentally about building healthy, economically vibrant communities.
  4. We engage students as advocates for eating healthy and supporting their local economy. The farm-to-school movement, the Let’s Move program, and many other education and health initiatives provide classroom tie-ins to our campaigns that make fundraising a learning opportunity instead of a distraction.

The second article was a decidedly less cynical piece from The Pew Charitable Trusts that discussed the virtues of making fundraising a healthy endeavor. I loved the resources (and potential FarmRaiser Partners) they listed to help make annual fundraising traditions more meaningful, healthy activities.

As we’ve built FarmRaiser over the last two years­ from an idea to a fully operating platform and fundraising business, evidence for our theory-of-change–that schools will engage parents and community members in a fundamentally different way if given a viable (and profitable) alternative–increases with every new campaign that adopts the platform.

At FarmRaiser, reinventing school fundraising starts with the products we offer, but goes much farther. We help give schools a voice and role in the move towards sustainable agriculture and the creation of local food systems—among the most significant social movements of 21st Century.

Schools are in a great position to lead on this issue. By taking our Healthy Fundraising Challenge and promoting FarmRaiser campaigns to the many groups raising money for educational activities, schools are giving added purpose to potentially tens of thousands of students. These young advocates, when armed with the right knowledge (and some great local products), can affect what food their parents buy and where they buy it while raising critically important funds for their schools and causes.

For example, when an elementary school in a small Idaho city held a 10 day fundraiser that sold $15,000 worth of locally grown apples and root vegetables, they moved much closer to the elusive sustainable fundraiser. Students had aggregated financial capital—for the school and the local farmers—in a way that endeared the school and the kids to the community. This same school kicks off their next campaign in a few weeks and is promising to beat last fall’s sales–a new, lasting tradition well on its way.

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Fundraising Frustration

August 28, 2015 / All / Comments: 0

A mom in Texas shared a photo this week of a PTA alternative fundraiser that cuts right to the chase: traditional fundraising is terrible, everyone hates it, so let’s just get this over with. We feel her pain! If you’re ready for a fundraiser that’s fun, profitable, educational, and supports your local food system, visit us at farmraiser.com or email us at info@farmraiser.com.

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Michigan student sells over $2,000 dollars’ worth of healthy, local products

August 28, 2015 / All, Local Food and Amazing Products / Comments: 0

Lucy Voss, a high school student from Traverse City, MI, sold over $2,000 dollars’ worth of healthy local products to her community to help get her soccer team, North Star Soccer, to the USA Cup in July. She credits her success to healthy, fresh products in her campaign, the increasing demand for local food, and how easy it was to use FarmRaiser’s mobile app and web-based farmers’ market to make sales to customer-supporters. Congrats on your success, Lucy–we can’t wait to see other FarmRaiser Champions follow in your footsteps!

If you’re tired of doing the same old fundraisers and are ready to start selling local, healthy products to raise money for your cause instead, please visit our website, sign up to host a FarmRaiser, or email us at info@farmraiser.com

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Healthy Fundraising Options: They do exist!

August 17, 2015 / All, Healthy Fundraising Ideas / Comments: 0

The Pew Charitable Trusts recently released an article FULL of great ideas for schools and parents looking for healthy ways to raise money for important causes. Check out the article here.

The first day of school is just a few days away (if it hasn’t happened already!), so share your fundraising ideas with your child’s teachers and principal. If you’re looking for a fun, new way to raise money, turn kids into advocates for healthy, local food, and support your local food system, email us at info@farmraiser.com. Let us help you get the money you need while providing kids with healthy futures!

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Healthy fundraisers > junk food

6043228839_e7e3feee6c_zDo I have to sell junk food to raise money this year? As the first day of school approaches, teachers, administrators and parent volunteers across the country may find themselves wrestling with this question. For years, candy bars, tubs of cookie dough, and pizza kits have been the “go to” for school fundraisers. These highly-processed products are full of empty calories, are low in nutritional value, and go against everything we are trying to teach our children about healthy eating. In fact, most of these products would be illegal to sell in schools under the federal Smart Snacks nutritional requirements, if the industry lobbyists hadn’t managed to sneak an exception into the legislation. The final insult of junk-food fundraising is that a big chunk of the sales price goes to out-of-state or foreign corporations, taking money out of the local economy and hurting local businesses.

veggiesSo, what are some healthy school fundraising options? If you’ve had enough junk-fundraisers and are ready for a new, healthy way to raise money for your school or organization, we’re here to help. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. FarmRaiser’s Healthy Local Food Fundraiser. Our core mission is to connect local farms and food artisans with student fundraisers, keeping 85% of the money in the local economy, and helping you teach students to be champions of healthy, local eating. FarmRaiser champions are not miniature salespeople–they’re informed advocates for eating healthy, local food who connect your supporters to amazing local products. Get started here.

2. Fun Run, Move-a-thon, or Read-a-thon. With pledge-based fundraisers like walk-a-thons or read-a-thons, kids don’t sell products at all. Supporters donate money in return for a pledge from a student to exercise or read for a certain time or amount. Email us to learn how you can use FarmRaiser’s easy online platform and mobile apps to support your pledge-based fundraiser, by making it easy and convenient for your supporters to make pledges, and for your student champions to collect donations.

picmonkey_image (6)3. Community Service Projects.  Raise money for your cause by helping those less fortunate in your town with FarmRaiser Community Baskets. When students sell Community Baskets, FarmRaiser will purchase surplus fresh fruit and veggies for local food banks and return a portion of price to the school. In a community basket fundraiser every $20 cash donation typically provides 10 pounds of fresh produce for the foodbank and up to $15 to your school’s cause. Students receive certified community service hours for participating.

4. Healthy cookbook fundraiser. Make a collection of favorite healthy recipes from families in your community. You can either put the cookbook together yourself or have a company do it for you. Make sure to stress that, while homemade cookies and candy are great, you’re collecting healthy recipes. Maybe even throw a party to celebrate the publication of the cookbook where students bring dishes their families contributed!

5. Hold a silent auction or Pop-up farmers market at your next parent event.  Auctions are great ways to keep your fundraising profitable and healthy. Local businesses are often willing to donate their products to support your cause and raise their profiles in the community. Don’t forget to include healthy, family-friendly options like mini-golf passes or trips to local farms for berry picking. If you’re interested in FarmRaiser contributing local produce to your auction, email us and we’ll talk you through some of the different ways we can help.

 

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August Newsletter

 

Dear friend — picmonkey_image (5)

Do I have to sell junk food to raise money this year?
As the first day of school approaches, teachers, administrators and parent volunteers across the country may find themselves wrestling with this question. For years, candy bars, tubs of cookie dough, and pizza kits have been the “go to” for school fundraisers. These highly-processed products are full of empty calories, are low in nutritional value, and go against everything we are trying to teach our children about healthy eating. In fact, most of these products would be illegal to sell in schools under the federal Smart Snacks nutritional requirements, if the industry lobbyists hadn’t managed to sneak an exception into the legislation. The final insult of junk-food fundraising is that a big chunk of the sales price goes to out-of-state or foreign corporations, taking money out of the local economy and hurting local businesses.

So, what are some healthy school fundraising options? If you’ve had enough junk-fundraisers and are ready for a new, healthy way to raise money for your school or organization, we’re here to help. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. FarmRaiser’s Healthy Local Food Fundraiser. Our core mission is to connect local farms and food artisans with student fundraisers, keeping 85% of the money in the local economy, and helping you teach students to be champions of healthy, local eating. FarmRaiser champions are not miniature salespeople–they’re informed advocates for eating healthy, local food who connect your supporters to amazing local products. Get started here.

  2. Fun Run, Move-a-thon, or Read-a-thonWith pledge-based fundraisers like walk-a-thons or read-a-thons, kids don’t sell products at all. Supporters donate money in return for a pledge from a student to exercise or read for a certain time or amount. Email us to learn how you can use FarmRaiser’s easy online platform and mobile apps to support your pledge-based fundraiser, by making it easy and convenient for your supporters to make pledges, and for your student champions to collect donations.

  3. Community Service Projects.  Raise money for your cause by helping those less fortunate in your town with FarmRaiser Community Baskets. When students sell Community Baskets, FarmRaiser will purchase surplus fresh fruit and veggies for local food banks and return a portion of price to the school. In a community basket fundraiser every $20 cash donation typically provides 10 pounds of fresh produce for the foodbank and up to $15 to your school’s cause. Students receive certified community service hours for participating.

  4. Healthy cookbook fundraiser. Make a collection of favorite healthy recipes from families in your community. You can either put the cookbook together yourself or have a company do it for you. Make sure to stress that, while homemade cookies and candy are great, you’re collecting healthy recipes. Maybe even throw a party to celebrate the publication of the cookbook where students bring dishes their families contributed!

  5. Hold a silent auction or Pop-up farmers market at your next parent event.  Auctions are great ways to keep your fundraising profitable and healthy. Local businesses are often willing to donate their products to support your cause and raise their profiles in the community. Don’t forget to include healthy, family-friendly options like mini-golf passes or trips to local farms for berry picking. If you’re interested in FarmRaiser contributing local produce to your auction, email us and we’ll talk you through some of the different ways we can help.

Locally yours,
The FarmRaiser Team

“LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE AND MEDICINE BE THY FOOD”
HIPPOCRATES

picmonkey_image (4)This Michigan organization knows local food is here to stay. We aren’t surprised to see this piece from Taste the Local Difference, who knows as well as we do that Michigan has amazing farmers and food artisans, many of whom we are proud to call partners!

Farm to School programs are helping children grow into healthy, informed eaters. Learn more about the tremendous long term benefits that our friends at the Farm to School Network bring to kids across the country.

The rapid rise of local food is well-documented and shows no signs of slowing down! Learn how “local” is quickly surpassing long-time food stars “organic,” and “fresh,” as more consumers begin to regard the origin of their food as most important.

Is there a resource or piece of news you’d like to share with FarmRaiser? We want to hear about it! Tweet to @FarmRaiser or email us at info@farmraiser.com.


Vendor Spotlight: Kaladi Brothers Coffee, Anchorage, AKKBC_goat[1]
FarmRaiser is thrilled to announce that Alaska’s very own Kaladi Brothers Coffee is officially our newest partner-producer. While they make an amazing cup of coffee, they are also equally committed to being a “Catalyst for Community” in Alaska. By contributing their resources and time to Alaskans for over 25 years, Kaladi Brothers has become a staple for community engagement initiatives; they support countless local fundraising efforts and serve as a gathering place for communities throughout the state. That kind of local commitment means that they fit right in with the FarmRaiser family, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome them.  Make sure to check out their website, follow them on Twitter, and like them on Facebook!

If you’d like to become a FarmRaiser vendor, support great local causes, and grow your business (and maybe be featured in this newsletter), sign up here

On the FarmRaiser Horizon. We’re excited to announce that we will soon be offering community service opportunities for students! Details are coming your way next week, so keep your eyes peeled!

Start a campaign

Supply a campaign 

Learn more about us

Do you know someone who might like to hold a FarmRaiser? Email us! Make sure to include the person’s name, school/organization, and contact info and we’ll take it from there. As always, thanks for spreading the word about FarmRaiser!

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Fresh, Local Food: It’s closer than you think!

What’s your favorite farmers’ market in your area? Where do you go to pick apples, pumpkins, or strawberries? If you can’t answer these questions or can only come up with one or two answers, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the fantastic local food resources that are just waiting for you to discover them!

Whether you’re new to exploring local farms and farmers’ markets or you just can’t get enough of your local food scene, FarmRaiser is here to help! Here are a few of our favorite resources and tips for finding fresh, local products.

 

Resources for Finding Local Farms and Food

1. Real Time Farms

Real Time Farms is a crowd-sourced guide to finding farms, food artisans, farmers’ markets, and eateries near you. Simply enter your location and see a map of your options!  Real Time Farms is a great resource to consult when you’re coming up with weekend plans, move to a new area, or are just looking to increase your support of local farms and businesses. If you are a farmer, business owner, or savvy local foodie and know of something that Real Time Farms needs to include, don’t forget to add it to the site!

2. Local Harvest

In addition to helping you find local food producers and markets, Local Harvest is a great tool for those looking for information on CSAs (read more about them here) as well as details on upcoming events at local farms and markets. Attending food events near you is an easy way to learn more about the farms and food artisans in your area, and is a perfect way to get kids interested and engaged in eating healthy food.

 

3. Eat Well

Eat Well is a guide to sustainable, local food and products around you that also provides info on shops, markets, restaurants, and organizations to help you make smart choices about where you spend your money and time. If you’re searching for farms, coffee shops, or organizations that support sustainable agriculture and local farmers/food artisans, Eat Well is a perfect place to start.

4. Puget Sound Fresh

Puget Sound Fresh is the Northwest’s guide to what’s fresh, local and perfectly ripe all year round. Local farm, fisheries and forest fresh products abound in the Pacific Northwest, and Puget Sound Fresh is your one stop guide to finding the best the season has to offer. If you’re searching for farms, corn mazes, farmers markets, freshly foraged morels, or the most sustainable seafood, Puget Sound Fresh is the place to start.

 

Helpful Tips

1. Host a FarmRaiser healthy fundraising campaign at your school or organization! Students sell healthy, local produce and products from the farms and food artisans in your area, so it’s a great way to expose yourself and your community to the abundance of amazing local food surrounding you. If there’s a particular farmer or food artisan in your community whose products you love, we’ll work with you to get their products into your fundraiser.

2. Talk to your local farmers about their farms! The next time you visit your local farmers’ market, don’t just hand over your money and leave. If the farmer you’re buying from isn’t too busy with other customers, ask her questions about what she grows, if there are “You Pick” opportunities at her farm, or if her farm hosts any events during the year.

 

Regardless of if you find them by hosting or supporting a FarmRaiser campaign, searching online, or by word of mouth, visiting area farms and farmers’ markets is vital in improving your local food system and economy as well as your health. For more information on how to support local farmers and food artisans and do your part to strengthen the sustainable agriculture movement, email us at info@farmraiser.com.

 

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Pizza Farm to School?

July 17, 2015 / All / Comments: 0

FarmRaiser is all about giving people healthy choices to help them lead healthier lives. That’s why we LOVE this hilarious new video from the American Heart Association, who partnered with comedy production company Funny or Die to highlight just how important it is to protect and continue the progress made by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids act…and give us a good laugh in the process.

Learn more by checking out the American Heart Association blog and following the #KeepSchoolFoodHealthy hashtag, and don’t forget to contact your lawmakers to urge them to continue to protect our children’s healthy futures. FarmRaiser sends a huge thank you to our friends at the American Heart Association for bringing attention to this critical issue!

As always, thank you for strengthening your community and local food system with FarmRaiser. Together, we can make sure real food from real farms -not pizza farms- are feeding our nation’s young people.

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The Magic of Honey- a Favorite FarmRaiser Product

July 15, 2015 / All / Comments: 0

There is so much to be said about honeybees. One of the hardest working creatures on the planet, an industrious worker bee can visit up to 2,000 flowers in one day. They are incredibly complex creatures, with intricate communication and learning systems. It is said that apart from primates, honeybees have the most complex symbolic language of any animal on earth.

Perhaps the most amazing thing to be said about honeybees is just how much they have contributed to human civilization over the past several centuries. Honeybees pollinate around 80% of the world’s flowering crops, which constitutes about 1/3 of everything we eat. While some plants can pollinate themselves, or rely on the wind to do it for them, others must rely on animals to assist them in this process. Apples, blueberries, cucumbers, broccoli and cherries are just a few examples of the flowering plants that would no longer exist without the help of honeybees for pollination.

It’s not just fruits and vegetables at risk if honeybees disappeared. Much of our meat and livestock industry relies on crops such as alfalfa for animal feed, a plant that also relies on honeybees for pollination. In short, bees are essential to human agricultural productivity. They also help maintain plant biodiversity, which not only helps prevent the emergence and spread of many agricultural pests and diseases, but also is crucial to the overall health of the planet.

Honeybees, as pollinators, play a huge role in supporting the human diet! But on top of all this, they also provide humans with some other amazing natural gifts such as beeswax, propolis, royal jelly and honey.

 

Beeswax is known for its skin healing properties. It is used as a naturally nourishing moisturizer, and is also known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also used to make candles, lip balm and a variety of other products.

 

Propolis is a sticky glue-like substance made when honeybees combine beeswax and the resins collected from trees. Bees use propolis as a glue to repair cracks and holes in their hive. Humans use propolis for its natural antimicrobial and germicidal properties.

 

Royal Jelly is a milk-like substance made from worker honeybees. Royal Jelly is fed to the Queen Bee to support her health. Humans often use Royal Jelly as a dietary supplement, as it is loaded with nutrients, particularly B vitamins.

 

Last, but certainly not least, is honey. Honey is an easily digestible, pure food that has long been utilized by humans all over the world. It is a delicious, mineral rich, healthy alternative to sugar or other sweeteners and is also known for its various health benefits. Honey is often used as a natural cough suppressant, as an aid in healing wounds, and for boosting the human immune system.

To celebrate the magic of honeybees and the many health benefits of honey, we want to turn the spotlight over to some of our wonderful honey vendor partners!

 

Jelenik Honey:

Jelenik Honey is located in beautiful Suttons Bay, Michigan. The Jelinek family has been caring for bees in Leelanau County since 1926! These years of experience help create a truly special product. They offer 100% pure honey made in beautiful Leelanau County, as well as handmade beeswax candles, beeswax lotion, honey lip balm, and honey soap! In the summer months you can find them at all of the Leelanau County farmers markets.

 

Champion Hill Honey:

Champion Hill Honey is located in Benzie County, just a few miles from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Their hives are owned and maintained by Greg Griswold, who is an experienced beekeeper. He is a proponent for natural methods used for mite treatment and overall bee health, even though these treatments can often be more time consuming and costly.

Their hives are located in rural fields where the star thistle plant grows wild. The result is a star thistle honey that is very sweet and mild tasting.

 

Sleeping Bear Farms Honey

Sleeping Bear Farms Honey is located in Beulah, Michigan. Founders Kirk and Sharon Jones began their adventure in beekeeping about 30 years ago when they purchased their first two beehives from a local beekeeper. They enjoyed it so much that within a few years beekeeping became a full-time endeavor.  They teamed up with Dave Nesky, another beekeeper from Michigan, around 1990 and expanded their operation to include pollination services for local cherry and apple farmers.

Today, their bees spend the summers in Northern Michigan, making honey from the nectar of the star thistle plant. During the harsh Michigan winters, the bees travel to either Florida, to make tupelo honey, or to California to work pollinating almond trees. Their pure honey is a local favorite in the Northern Michigan area!

Withers Mountain Honey Farm:

Withers Mountain Honey is located in Flint, Michigan and is owned by Jim Withers, who fell in in love with beekeeping after retiring from his career and starting it as a hobby. They offer a wide variety of bee-related products including honey, creamed honey, beeswax skincare products and other products from the hive!

 

Dancing Bee Apiary

Dancing Bee Apiary is located in Eatonville, Washington, just about an hour out of the city of Seattle. Their bee’s graze on a wide variety of flowering and fruit producing trees including raspberry and blackberry bushes, lavender blossoms and squash blossoms! They use all natural and organic methods, never using insecticides, pesticides or herbicides of any kind! They offer a variety of organic skin care products including soaps and salves, as well as pure beeswax and, of course, honey!

 

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Creating a Healthier America by Cooking at Home

July 10, 2015 / All, Family and Community Health / Comments: 0

The Problem

In this day and age, most Americans are aware of the grave health troubles affecting our country. Lizarondo reveals that this issue is much worse than many of us could have imagined—today, one in three Americans has pre-diabetes or diabetes, and over 2/3 of our population are overweight or obese.

These statistics are astounding to say the least, but perhaps even more frightening is the estimate that, if we keep living the way we do right now, 1 in 3 children born after 2000 will develop diabetes, and in about 6 years every other person in American will have contracted this deadly disease. Additionally, “As of 2010, diet surpassed smoking as the No. 1 risk factor for disease and death in America” (Lizarondo).


The Simple Solution That We Can’t Seem to Implement

According to Lizarondo, we already know the answer: maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet. In fact, studies have shown that simply eating 7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day lowers mortality from all causes; Lizarondo herself is living proof of this. In her 20s, she was diagnosed with the chronic, multi-symptom disease fibromyalgia. The doctors told her she would have to take pills to improve her symptoms every day for the rest of her life.

However, Lizarondo found that merely altering her diet to include healthier, more balanced meals and excluding fast foods cured her symptoms completely. Immediately following this experience, she decided to dedicate her life to sharing her knowledge to others and figuring out why making this diet change is so difficult for people.

Lizarondo believes that mush of this issue resides within our relationship with food. As a country, we have progressively spent less and less money and time on food—fast food and processed meals have replaced home-cooked meals prepared from scratch. Lizarondo notes that “in 1900, 2% of meals were eaten outside the home” and by “2010, 50% were eaten away from home and one in five breakfasts is from McDonald’s”


The Last Mile – Cooking

She refers to this underlying issue as the food system’s “Last Mile,” or the connection that actually delivers the product to its users: Cooking. All the work being done within the food movement to provide access to fresh and organic foods means nothing if the majority of our population doesn’t start preparing food at home.

People tend to use two main excuses for not making meals at home – lack of time to spend cooking and it being too expensive. Lizarondo quickly dispels those excuses with a few quick facts.

The American Time Use Survey shows that we spend about 27 minutes preparing food but almost 3 hours a day watching TV. With a little less time in front of the TV and a little more time in the kitchen, we’d quickly be on our way to healthier meals.
Contrary to popular belief, cooking food from ingredients bought from scratch ends up being significantly less expensive than purchasing prepared food. Take a look at this New York Times comparison visual of McDonalds vs home cooked meals.
Lizarondo concludes that the principal reason we don’t cook turns out to be that we no longer know how. A 2011 cooking survey by Bosch, a maker of appliances, showed that 1/3 of Americans do not know how to cook. 53% feel they have less knowledge than their parents did.


Fixing The Last Mile Problem

Lizarondo hopes to communicate the idea that cooking must become its own initiative, rather than the small part of the food movement it constitutes today. She proposes that the federal government make relearning how to cook a public health imperative. In 2005, the federal government spent $80B in diabetes management vs. $0.2B for diabetes prevention. The government must begin prioritizing preventive measures, such as subsidizing mandatory culinary education and nutrition counselors in all schools.

Teaching people to cook will make people healthier, but also more interested in where their food comes from. “Cooking makes us more intimate with our food and deepens our relationship with it. Its how the farm gets to the table” (Lizarondo).

Curious to hear from Leah Lizarondo herself? You can watch a video of the TEDx Talk here.

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