How will these needs be met? (Part Two)
After ramping up our infrastructure over the past three years, we’re now ready to bring on some co-workers to help move Three Sisters forward. Last winter, after crunching some numbers and honing a vision of the next four years that includes some modest growth (view our 4 year financial projections here) we realized some financial assistance would be helpful to support the creation of the new salaried positions we identified as integral to this next phase. We learned we were prime candidates for a USDA Rural Development grant program that focuses on supporting the creation of jobs in agriculture, and also learned that our chances of receiving an award were good due to an influx of Covid-19 relief funds into the available pool. All that was needed was the commitment of time and energy to complete the application.
During the months of February, March, April and May this year Kelly felt as if she was forging the future of Three Sisters in a bureaucratic crucible. In the end the grant ate up at least 100 hours of precious down-season and planning time, and was over 100 pages of essays, cash flow projections, financial statements, job descriptions and supporting documentation. Finishing the grant would not have been possible without the help of several friends, notably Angie, Sarah and Stephanie.
We found out in August that the grant was funded! This gives us some additional confidence to step toward a new future. Starting in 2022 the farm will bring on two co-workers, Adrian and Alyx. We have worked with both these fine individuals in the past. The USDA grant will cover half of the salary of one full-time person for a year for their role helping Jeff in our vegetable pack shed. Adrian brings his experience and expertise to the production side of the farm, and to the development of our fruit orchard.
The talented Alyx we see wearing many hats: serving as member liaison and helping with farmwork and packing. Also, we’re excited for her to wield her considerable people skills as the farm’s social coordinator – think more volunteer opportunities, more on-farm events. It’s for this aspect of Alyx’s role that we will soon launch a crowd-funded campaign.
We are stepping into a new era at Three Sisters! We are thankful for any support you have showed us so far and we hope you will continue to be a part of the journey.