Photo Gallery: Cricket Creek Farm
WILLIAMSTOWN -- For years, Cricket Creek Farm has been producing dairy products that line shelves of local stores, grace plates of local restaurants, and help nearby families keep their kids nourished.
And now, operators of the farm, Topher Sabot and Suzy Konecky, have a plan to bring the operation into financial sustainability. But that plan needs capital.
So friends, community members and farm fans are being asked to help out by donating to the farm's Kickstarter campaign.
A celebration will be held on Friday to mark the launch of that campaign.
For three years the farmers have been studying farm finance and operations, Konecky said, and they have determined that although it has been operating at a loss for the past few years, with a modest new revenue stream and reduced energy costs, the farm could be financially sustainable.
The plan is to renovate and upgrade the second story of the stone barn for use as community space and special event rentals, and to invest in enough solar to reduce the cost of energy needed to refrigerate the farm's dairy products and supplies.
"We want to create a farm that is truly sustainable," Konecky said. "For three years we've been seeking ways to cut costs and increase revenue without jacking up our prices so our neighbors can still buy our artisinal cheeses, raw milk and free-range eggs."
The barn, she noted, is plenty big enough to hold special events like weddings, birthdays or anniversaries, as well as community meetings and events. The plan is to install a new roof, insulation, a sprinkler system, as well as sliding glass doors and an exterior deck that will feature dazzling views of Mount Greylock and the surrounding farm country, as well as picture windows and other features to capitalize on the views. The revenue from party rentals would help fuel the farm operations.
"Just a few events will allow us to supplement our revenue and keep our prices steady," Konecky said.
Then there is the plan to install solar panels to reduce the significant cost of refrigeration -- the highest energy need on a dairy farm.
Konecky said the farm has secured some credit, and has procured funding from some private donors that will help partially pay for the roughly $200,000 barn renovation project. So they have set a goal of $85,000 on their Kickstarter campaign.
If they do not raise $85,000, then they don't get any money and Kickstarter donors' commitments will be void, Konecky said. If they do hit their goal, that will be enough to complete the barn project. Any money over the $85,000 would go toward the solar installation.
Donors at levels from $10 to $10,000 will get a variety of rewards, based on the amount of the donation, rewards which range from a mention on the farm's website to a wedding or other party at the new barn.
"The long-term return on these investments will be the success of this farm as a continuing community resource," Konecky said. "I think people see value in the farm not only for the locally raised food, but for visits to see the animals and as an educational resource to learn about the agricultural process."
The party, which will be at Cricket Creek Farm, at 1255 Oblong Road in Williamstown, begins at 8 p.m. There will be food made at local farms and by local bakers, and beer brewed by Berkshire Brewing Co. The campaign kicks off at 9 p.m. Folks unable to make the party can join the campaign at the Cricket Creek Farm website: www.cricketcreekfarm.com.
"We've been crunching numbers for a long time, and we've figured out this is really what we need," Konecky said. "So we have to reach a wide audience -- if everybody gives just a little something it can really add up."
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