Yesterday we received notice that Singer Sewing Machine Company is donating two new sewing machines to North Country Sustainability Center, Inc. and that they’ll be here by the end of the week! I was so surprised. They had received a notice of this blog the day before when I sent out my daily blog announcements.  I’ve wondered whether this blog did any good, though we’ve been receiving some very kind comments from readers. But to actually have a concrete donation to NCSC has shown that it is making a difference.  So far we’ve accumulated one industrial sewing machine (Thanks Greta), an old Kenmore machine (Thanks Cinde),  a newer Janome (thanks Mom, though I’d rather have you than it), and now this wonderful gift from Singer.  We’ve now outgrown our two sewing rooms, and really NEED those old buildings, so we can stretch out the fabric somewhere 🙂

We’ve put in our bid for the buildings, but we still need to raise the funds to meet that offer. There is another bid, though they need to find funding too. Now the mortgage holder is saying that they don’t want to rule on the bids until after they’ve had a couple more weeks to accept bids. This is frustrating, but it does give us time to raise more funds.  Can you help?  I know, people are tired of hearing about “places in need,” but we’re actually trying to help others with our funding. Yes, I would be able to get paid, that means, so would my mortgage holder. But more importantly, the textile artists who are working from home would have a place to collaborate and promote their work, help others learn to sew, and save money down the road.

Our farmer’s market started this week, but we only had one baker. She was able to pay for the expenses to have her house meet the requirements of our regional health agent, but most people can’t. We have others who want to make cookies, roast nuts, and make pies, but they need that commercial kitchen.  One of our vendors makes cake pops, but she has to work out of town and only has her condo kitchen to meet the needs of her growing clientele.

I’ve written before about Jeanie, I think. She has a great recipe, and a developed market, for her “special diet ice cream,” which makes it possible for people with allergies to enjoy her delicious treat. But she needs a  licensed facility that meets the very strict USDA and Board of Health regulations for dairy products. Her project could solve an issue for hundreds of families that have children with food allergies, but she needs us to get started.

We need tables to spread out, shelving for the swap shop, dog jumps for the agility groups, all of which are great beginner carpentry projects for new woodworkers. This is a time when those skills are really helpful to hand, but the instruction, workspace and equipment is more than most people can afford on their own. We have woodworkers ready to teach, work and help shape the future of the NCSC.

Summer is a time for livestock shows, and in many parts of the country fairgrounds are sitting empty, and shows are not meeting “sanction.”  Why? because the prices have exceeded the cost of many 4H’ers, and
the grounds need repair. Because of our business plan, we can afford to keep shows affordable, and let more children and small farm families, have the chance to promote their herds, learn more about their projects and find each other for support.  We can’t be a “fairgrounds,” for multiple events at one time, but we can provide dedicated space for special events, such as rabbit shows, goat shows and horse training clinics.

As people learn more about the problems in our food supply, ie. shortage of slaughterhouses, problems of scale, expense of transportation, pink slime, and others, they are seeking a place to learn to grow their own food, find alternatives to corporate food, and a place where they can learn what the realities are. NCSC can be that place. But we need the space to really do it right.  I met this weekend with people from another part of our county who at first couldn’t see how this facility would help them, 40 miles away from their farms.   But when they started to see an infrastructure where several places like this could be connected by “green trucks,” their opinions softened. They could work their farms, and not have to truck every product to every re-seller.  A new business can grow from their work, and they can save time at the same time.  Such centers would allow consumers to find a place to find fresh food that wasn’t trekked across the continent. And that’s how the local food system grows.  Imagine biodiesel “grocery trucks,” that bring produce into neighborhoods where cars are often not functioning.  What about a “Food truck” that taught cooking, not just sold food? These are some of the potential projects that NCSC could develop.

This is a place of hope for many.  Looking at the cost of getting started,  we believe $350,000 will get us a great start.  We could buy the buildings, pay some staff, get insurance, pay off the old oil bill and have money to get started on the renovations. We can raise funds as we go, from selling the beautiful horse stalls to renting the arena, holding workshops and more.  We don’t want it all at once, but we want, no need, to get started.
The amount sounds tremendous for an individual, but for many, many individuals, it’s not.  Considering the current money being spent to get one person elected, this is a drop in the bucket.  Imagine the world that NCSC  can create, and illustrate to others.  It is a beacon, but we need to fan the flame, or it will blow out.

This is such an exciting project. It is so hopeful, positive; it can be hard to believe. But it is possible, if people of vision put that vision into action.  An empty building complex in the country can change the fortunes for thousands of people, and still protect that small town environment.  It is sustainable, once we reach that level. Please give us a boost to that point, and we’ll help others get there with guidance, illustration, and opportunities.  We’re ready when you are, but the buildings and the bank can only wait so long.