It has been an exciting year for First Light Project and we are truly thankful. With the generous support of individuals and organizations we have built a small pilot farm in Philadelphia and the response from the community is overwhelmingly positive!
This idea took a long time to germinate but the results speak for themselves. Early this year First Light Project Farm was selected as a finalist for the Full City Challenge. Many of you donated to our Go Fund Me campaign and in two weeks we raised nearly $10,000 towards building the pilot farm. Generous donations from a family foundation plus important gifts from individuals helped us raise the $40,000 needed to build and equip the farm. Our first crops were planted in November and we are now seeing the results of our efforts.
Along the way we have made many new friends and forged important partnerships with the community. It really does take a village to build a farm! At the top of our list we want to thank Philabundance, the region’s premiere hunger relief agency who generously donated space to us for the farm pilot in their North Philadelphia warehouse. We are grateful for their support and they will soon be the recipient of much of what we are harvesting. We thank Episcopal Community Services, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, and Drexel University for their support and encouragement. We also want to thank our Board of Advisers and the many technical experts from the agricultural community who have given us sage advice, unconditional support, and who continue to guide us on this exciting journey.
Each of us can relate to the pleasure of seeing something grow; be it a garden, a family, a business, or a dream. FLP Farm is all of that and more. There is an immediate sensory and visceral reaction you get upon entering the farm. You sense the energy of being in a space that is alive and growing. The sights and smells envelope you. You experience change happening and feel more alive.
This project is much more than a farm. It is a gift and opportunity for those in Philadelphia who seek to put healthy food on the table and who struggle to earn a living wage. It is a pathway for youth to find a career and purpose in an emerging industry and a pathway for those who strive to be a productive member of society. In neighborhoods mired in poverty a farm represents hope. A farm helps build a strong community.
Our push for the coming year is to build our first full-scale urban farm. We have a team in place, sites identified, community support and interest, and soon we will have commitments from customers to buy our leafy greens and herbs. The farm was awarded a state grant which will go towards purchasing refrigeration and harvesting equipment. We are in conversation with charitable funders who support our mission and who are closely tracking our efforts to raise the funds needed to build the farm. Fundraising is much like farming; we are continually planting seeds of support and patiently cultivating the relationships that will ultimately benefit the community at large. Here is where you can help.
As 2019 comes to a close we are sending out our Year-End appeal. Help us raise the next $15,000.00 with a fully tax deductible contribution to First Light Project. Your support lets funders and investors know that there is a strong desire to see the farm come to fruition and that the project enjoys broad community support. We are truly grateful for those who have supported us this year and we hope you and many others will support us in 2020.
Tomorrow we harvest again and plant our next rotation. Last week’s arugula and kale has germinated and is ready to move to seedling stage. Tomorrow we will harvest basil and three varieties of lettuce. There are new seeds to try, settings to tweak, nutrient levels to adjust and an endless list of chores to do. It never ends. We have many miles to go, but I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything.