I’ve heard many people tell me how massive this project is, and I admit, from the outside, it is. Heck, from the inside it is, but it’s doable. Of course not all at one time, but it needs a chance to grow.  How do I know it will work? Because of these conversations:

A.  “Got to buy a pair of jeans, and I can’t afford it.”
     “Why not just fix them?”
      “Fix them? How do you do that? I always just buy new ones.”
      ” Just a button, some thread and a needle.  Sew it on yourself.”
      ” I don’t know how, and I can’t afford a tailor. They’re more expensive than cheap jeans.”
   ANSWER:  North Country Sustainability Center has the machines, the needle, thread and
                people to show you how to fix them. Or how to avoid cheap jeans.

B. “My dog put a hole in my window screen.  Know anyone who can fix it without charging me a fortune?”
    ” Why don’t you do it yourself? It’s not hard.”
    “I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
    ANSWER:  North Country Sustainability Center has the people with the tools, the patience and the
                    knowledge to show you how to fix screens, make better ones, or avoid cheap ones. It’s
                     only an NCSC away.

C. “I’ve always wanted a small farm, but there’s no way I can afford the land, or the time.”
    “Grow a little bit in your backyard and then find someone else who can grow what you can’t.”
    “I don’t know anything about gardening, and where would I find a farmer who could raise my meat.”
      ANSWER:  NCSC teaches classes on backyard farming, container gardening, and sustainable
                   living.  We also have farmers that want to avoid regular marketing costs, but like to know
                   the people they sell to.  NCSC helps people become wiser consumers, and more
                  profitable food producers.

D. “I make an awesome lemon meringue pie, but I can’t get licensed to make it at home. I don’t want to
            bootleg the sales, or I might lose my insurance. Guess I can’t make them to sell, but I can’t afford
            to give them away.”
     ” Why not get licensed for a home kitchen?”
     ” I’m on private well and septic. I can’t afford the tests, and improvements that they want, just so I              can make a couple pies.”
     “But they’re so good. I’m sure you could really bring a little money in with them, if there were a way to 
       make it possible.”
  ANSWER:  NCSC wants to purchase antique buildings that are on municipal water supplies and sewer,
                   so a community kitchen is much more feasible.  Small business can grow into larger
                    businesses if they can share that kitchen as a start up spot.
  E. “I’m so sick of telling people I can’t sell my goat cheese.  It’s really good, but I can’t afford the
        Grade A changes AND the Make Room AND the cooling facilities AND the labels.”
       ” Your cheese is wonderful. It doesn’t make sense you can’t find a way to make it work.”
      ” I could pay for part of the process, but I can’t afford it all. There’s no way I could ever repay the
        cost, not with my little herd.
     ANSWER:  A community micro-creamery, dealing with less than 25 gallons of milk can still yield
          a good amount of cheese. In one herd alone, given the right goats, that 25 gallons of milk could
          yield more than 75 lbs of cheese.  At $16/lb. that’s a good amount of money to pay the feed bill.
         NCSC can create that shared facility where a farm who’s Grade A at home can transport milk to
         the dairy, make a cheese in a regulated creamery and then sell it to stores, farmers markets, or
         wherever.  If the farm wants to make more they have a chance to learn what work is involved,
         and to go to a funder with a proven product. And more artisan cheese is available!

F. ” I want to train my dog, but it’s getting to expensive to drive to the trainer.”
    “I know, my son wants to be in 4H, but it’s a long way tot he fairgrounds. He can’t get there
      often enough to really train properly.”
    ” A friend of mine is a dog trainer, but can’t afford to rent space to really train a class. She wants to
     do group training, but that takes space.”
    ANSWER:  NCSC’s preferred buildings include an indoor riding arena that would be perfect for 4H
    shows, dog training and other educational programs.  It’s also a great place for an indoor farmer’s
    market  if the weather isn’t cooperating. The rentals from the arena and training spaces will help
    pay for the maintenance of the whole complex, if we can get the buildings.

  I could go on and on about our possibilities; people teaching cooking classes, farmers teaching farming skills, retirees teaching young people about tool safety, woodworking, or just community. It’s not that we have all the answers. It’s that we want to provide the space so that those with the answers can share their knowledge and earn a little money at the same time.   So, you see? The project is a collection of several smaller ones, and each of those will be run by someone who already knows what they are doing. Though there will be bumps along the way (’cause what new thing doesn’t suffer some bruising along the way?) we are just taking a new approach to old ways.  Not so big now, right?

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