Barnraiser: Building Good Food Projects with Crowd-Funding
Imagine this: An online crowd-funding community customized for people who advocate the consumption of good quality food, sustainable farming practices, and all things health and wellness. Thanks to Eileen Gordon, founder of Barnraiser, such an eclectic environment sprouted in 2014. Barnraiser is an online platform and virtual community whose mission is to put $1 billion into the hands of food innovators as they reshape how the world farms and values healthful food solutions.
Eileen describes the opportunity to launch this fast-growing platform as a reawakening experience.
“I was fortunate enough to have worked along side my husband, restaurateur and television host Michael Chiarello, in his career as a chef, and was inspired by growers, chefs, and artisan food producers,” she says. In the past decade, the couple gained stewardship of 20 acres of vineyards in Napa Valley. Since then Eileen has been inspired by the people in this agrarian California community that devote their lives to artisanal delicacies, sustainable farming, and healthy habits.
She believes the movement toward adapting a “good food culture” is still in its beginning phase. Yet she acknowledges the people who farm locally as emerging modern-day heroes in society. Moved by their persistent efforts, she felt compelled to create some kind of system that would enable these remarkable individuals around the United States to unite and form a partnership. With Barnraiser, Eileen hopes to accelerate the “good food” movement. And she’s making progress. Barnraiser has already hosted projects in 32 states in just one year.
“We want to unleash the power of millions of people to fund, grow, and celebrate the thousands of projects that, collectively, can drive us to the tipping point of good food,” says Eileen. What truly separates Barnraiser from other crowd-funding platforms is its dedication to helping scale good food and sustainable farming, while seeking partners who are pursuing complementary work along the way. Some of its top partners include Edible Communities, Good Food Awards, National Farm to School Network, Animal Welfare Approved, and Slow Food USA.
“We provide a simple way for local artisan producers to build their business, grow their community, and get people involved in their growth,” Eileen says. It is this kind of community-driven effort that accumulates diverse ideas and motivates people, which permits the public to vote for what they wish to see on their plates.
Projects on Barnraiser have an estimated 70% success rate due to the personal support and tools the platform supplies. The best way for various Barnraiser projects to be recognized, of course, is by sharing stories of their progress with the community. Eileen says, “When farmers and food producers tell their stories publicly, they gain a vital set of supporters and customers.” The crowd-funding aspect is a fundamental component of the business plan because it connects people, so that they can form a group and demonstrate to others in the community how to build even greater support for these organizations.
“Using the power of crowd-funding to grow and support the people shaping how we farm and eat, one project at a time, allows millions of consumers to vote on what they want to see in the world,” says Eileen. She emphasizes that this form of funding helps equip growth capital or fundraising for the demand for growing nutritious food. Additionally, it is a quick, risk-free way to gain consumers and supporters. An empowering tool that gives the public the option of what they would like to fund and see flourish in their town.
Barnraiser projects raise on average between $5,000 and $25,000 and members of Edible Communities serve as a thriving example, as Eileen says, of a company that publicizes this health-inspired movement through its collection of publications in cities across the United States. “If you have a project to get funded, our team will personally support it by launching it, as well as customizing the planning and marketing toolkit as a part of our relationship with Edible,” says Eileen.
Barnraiser was the perfect name for this company, evoking the act of a community coming together to put up a barn for their neighbor—to build something that enables people to benefit from better food.
“We’re all in this together,” Eileen says. “The more you share, the more people will discover, celebrate, and fund these wonderful people who move us toward the tipping point.”