Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

Not only will local photographer Ken Abbott's pictures of Hickory Nut Gap Farm make it into his forthcoming book Useful Work, but the artist's visuals will also be on display at the Asheville Art Museum from Friday, July 24, until Sunday, October 11. Photo of longtime farm employee Clarence McAbee by Abbott

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise startup capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable Western North Carolina crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd.

Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm

From 1834 to 1909, Sherrill’s Inn (now Hickory Nut Gap Farm) housed travelers crossing a busy trade route through Hickory Nut Gap. In 1916, after railroad expansions through Asheville had obsolesced the Inn, honeymooning couple Elizabeth and Jim McClure purchased the property and surrounding land with the intent to convert it to a family farm. Generations later, the estate is a community staple, supplying grocery stores and countless eateries with farm-fresh products and offering tour participants glimpses into the local homesteading lifestyle. Local photographer Ken Abbott, who has been studying and photographing the establishment for about a decade, seeks to preserve this history and the present-day operations of the farm in his forthcoming photo book, Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm, which also contains historical essays by Rob Neufeld. The pictures contained in his 152-page book will be featured at the Asheville Art Museum from the book’s official release date on Friday, July 24, until Sunday, October 11. Abbott aims to raise $10,000 by Sunday, June 28, to fund book distribution and take the photo exhibition on the road.

Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s “Barnraiser” for a kitchen and butchery

While photographer Ken Abbott works to preserve Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s storied past, fourth generation owner Jamie Ager and wife Amy Ager are busy planning for the future of their two- and four-legged extended family. “We’re expanding to offer a deli, bakery and catering,” Jamie says in the farm’s crowdfunding video, adding that a new kitchen and custom butcher shop would transform the farm into more of an agritourism destination, thereby fostering more community involvement with sustainably raised food. In addition to feeding visitors meals with value-added meat products like deli roast beef, bratwursts and smoked pulled pork, the fully functional kitchen and butchery would provide a venue for farm-to-table classes. “We want to invite the community to continue the legacy that we’ve collectively built over the years, because the mission that we’re on is way too big for us to be on alone.” The Agers aim to raise $25,000 by Tuesday, June 30, to construct the new food processing spaces and purchase a smoker, deli case, convection oven and vacuum sealer.

MindPod Network’s expansion

From providing podcasts by spiritual leaders to quick reads on meditation during meals, MindPod Network aims to help users achieve balance and fulfillment in their day-to-day lives by presenting “practical wisdom via accessible platforms.” Currently, the organization’s website acts as a free repository of inspiring multimedia content, created predominantly from a core group of spiritual leaders. The next goal, however, is to reach more minds by way of pockets and purses. The MindPod team, led by Noah Lampert, aims to raise $36,000 by Monday, June 29, to develop and launch a MindPod mobile app and expand the “Heart Wisdom” program to include more content.

Send your crowdsourcing campaign news to kmcreynolds@mountainx.com. A limited number of campaigns will be highlighted each week, at Xpress‘ discretion. Campaigns must be locally based and should represent a current project with an achievable goal. Conditions are subject to change. Read about more Western North Carolina projects here.

About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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