Tryon family using Internet crowdsourcing to save farm

Staff ~ The Journal Pioneer
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TRYON – It’s a sunny day in Tryon, with a clear blue sky and a cool breeze coming off the water. For 55 years, David Best would be farming on a day such as this.

David Best and his son Brian have turned to an Internet crowdsourcing campaign to raise $200,000 to continue operations on their family farm.

But today, Best Acre Farms is a vast expanse of inactivity.

“I’ve been busy in some respects,” Best said as he watches his grandson run around the garage. “But in some others, not enough.”

Years of hardships, bad luck and a poor economy have left the potato farmer without a crop to plant this year for the first time in his life. The lenders simply won’t lend anymore, leaving Best and his family to look for other means of funding.

Where they found it, the 73-year-old Best never would have imagined…

The Internet.

“I know its capacity is unlimited, but I just never thought it would come to this.”

The idea came from his son, Brian, who had heard a story about an American bus driver who was abused by a group of children. A Canadian man started a crowdsourcing fund on the Internet to give the women a vacation. Within days, they had raised $600,000.

After a conversation with a friend about how to save the farm, Brian knew what to do.

“I realized this is what I have to do,” he said. “I jumped right on to Google and started reading about crowdsourcing, and that’s where it all started.”

The Bests started a campaign on the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo.com to raise $200,000 to save the family farm.

“When the lenders keep saying ‘no’, you’re in a box,” said Brian. “You’ve got to take a look out over and see if there’s anybody else out there. This crowdsourcing was like the last straw.”

Saving the farm is the top priority for the family, whose bloodline has occupied Best Acre Farms since before either of them was born.

“It’s been a family farm for a long time. My dad moved from Crapaud to Tryon in 1934, and that’s where it all got started.”

With nearly 80 years of history in the soil and 200 years in the region, the Bests haven’t thought about going anywhere else.

“We’re not thinking about that yet,” Brian said. “We’re focused on getting the word out to as many people as we can. The support that’s out there for a family farm is unreal.”

It’s been a rocky road to get to this point, with the latest disaster coming in 2008. Excess rain caused the Best family to lose 55 per cent of their crops, resulting in a loss of $600,000.

The excess debt from that year still haunts the Best family, leading to the banks declining them a loan this year.

“We’ve just been watered down, bit-by-bit,” David said.

Now with the fundraising campaign, they are hoping to chip away at the debt enough to get back out into the fields.

David’s wife, Heather, works to prepare supper as her grandson scurries about the kitchen. Known for her knack for baking, she’s agreed to offer up a copy of her secret recipes for anyone who donates $20 to the fund.

“I don’t mind giving them away,” she laughs. “Not under these circumstances anyways.”

Even though the final goal is still a long way off, one thing is for certain right now. Heather’s secret recipes will be spread far and wide when all is said and done.

Donations have been flooding in ever since they started the webpage on June 4, with people donating anywhere from $10 to an anonymous donation of $500.

“It puts a big lump in your throat, is what it does,” Brian said. “It’s amazing.”

“Thank God for small mercies,” his father chimed in.

After being flooded with phone calls about other ways to donate to the cause, the Bests have also started a bank account for the fund, for people reluctant to transfer money over the Internet. Information on how to donate can be found on the Best Acre Farms page at Indiegogo.com.

While they have no idea what the total figure will be, the Best family hopes to rally and save their farm, for all the other families who haven’t been able to.

“Family farms are exactly what they are. No matter how big or small, they belong to the family,” Brian said.

“They have a lot of history to them, and they have the right to stay that way rather than bow down and move for the big fella.”

Those inclined to contribute can visit: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/saving-best-acre-farms.

 

Organizations: Best Acre Farms, Google

Geographic location: Crapaud

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Recent comments

  • Ellen
    June 10, 2013 - 11:44

    You are encouraging with your remarks. I have donated & though I,m not well off, I,m not going hungry either. I think if anyone who can, just gives a little, what an impact it will have. Also what a relief it will give to a family,s livelihood who does their best to work for a living. I,m encouraging anyone who can, to give that little, but with love, not pressure or obligation.

  • reg
    June 09, 2013 - 19:17

    I will be glad to make a contribution to help a Maritime farm family in hard times. As far as banks go, take a look at their loses overseas. I'm not surprised by their attitude toward people in their own country; who are responsible for their prosperity. Here's hoping this family gets more than enough to allow them to make a decent living!

  • Charlie Joseph
    June 07, 2013 - 15:58

    All hail Dana, the grand know it all of the comment boards. Why should individuals be aloud to decide whether or not they support other human being. DANA knows better! After all what do we know about spending OUR money. Dana sounds like a big government know it all - in training. I will support who I want based on my criteria, not Dana's. That said, I'm going to donate because of Dana's sanctimony.

  • ellen
    June 07, 2013 - 08:34

    have you ever heard the saying, "if you can,t say anything nice, don,t say anything at all" It helps. Knowing the farmer is at the mercy of nature,& the government, I have every sympathy for them. And, Dana, I would guess you buy & eat their produce.Whatever it takes to save a family home and business that is honest, go for it! God did say to love your neighbor, That includes anyone who needs help.I sure hope they are successful.

  • Ardith Lyon
    June 07, 2013 - 07:59

    Good for you folks, most people would leave and start a new life. Perhaps you can start a fund if you receive over the amount needed to get your debts paid, for other farmers who are in the same situation. Charity is no shame, and being too proud can be a waste of time. I'm sure your family will succeed in the effort to keep your farm running.

  • DANA
    June 06, 2013 - 06:18

    Sorry to here about your troubles , however turning to the internet is the lazy way out of this . If times are to this point then it`s time to rethink your way of life . Who are you to take money from people who are just getting by , you are not the only ones havivg hard times . Shame on you , get a part time job Brian .

    • Me
      June 07, 2013 - 01:21

      ....You don't understand how crowdsourcing works, do you? They're not taking money who are just getting by. People donate if they feel like it.