Kickstarter meets Farmville: this startup lets you adopt a sustainable farm



An interesting take on crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, if you aks me: Bulgarian startup farmhopping.com is offering consumers from all over the world the possibility to adopt pieces of sustainable farms from all over the world.

You basically get to run a farm without doing any of the hard or dirty work – or the rising before dawn to milk cows. It’s Kickstarter meets FarmVille “Real Life”, all from the cozyness of your desktop.

Consumers have been alienated from food production in the last decades, says the startup. By offering the ability to own (part) of a farm all over the world, farmhopping hopes that consumers will feel closer to sustainable food production again.

Farmhoppers can follow the production of “their” piece of the farm, and interact with the farmer – and even suggest ways to do work the products or do business around them. This is how farmhopper describes the benefits of farmhopping:

You can choose to support a farm by sharing a small online stake in it. You won’t own it in the usual sense, you will not possess a plant or an animal – everything will still belong to the farmer. In return for your financial support you can receive anything from a thank-you note to a portion of an animal’s annual produce, a free stay on the farm, hand-made woollen socks, to a say in deciding about the animal’s care.

It is up to each farm what they offer in exchange for the support they seek.

You can select a farm to sponsor based on whether you are an experienced professional looking to apply your skills in helping small farmers succeed, or looking to support an animal’s monthly care, or you are eager to help the farmer in the running of a farm over the weekend.

When you become a farm’s member you will be able browse through its shared farm units (animals, bee hives, fruit trees, plantations, etc.) and select an available backing plan.

You will receive updates from the farm about how your farm unit(s) are being bred and nourished, and be able to suggest your own strategic decisions regarding its upkeep.

So the model is basically a Kickstarter-like “reward based crowdfunding”: you give some money in return for feeling good about helping sustainable farming, and some reward of the farmer’s choosing.

For the farmers, Farmhopping hopes that by providing a pool of dedicated and supportive customers, sustainable farmers will have it easier to secure financing to roll out new products.A nice bonus might be the fact that the farmer gets a virtual fan base, or a moral support network (on the other hand you do wonder how well farmers will take “suggestions” from city slickers on how to run their farm).

Farmhoppers can join the program for free, but pay a 10-20% commission fee for each transaction. (If the backers pay this commission, this form of financing is probably cheaper than a loan for the farmers – otherwise, 10 to 20 percent seems quite steep for a loan or financing?)

The scope of the startup is global from the start: Rossi Mitova, the founder and CEO of Farmhopping told GoalEurope that farms from Bulgaria, the United States, Egypt, India, Israel, Greece, and the Philippines have signed on to be a part of this project and that the list is constantly increasing.

The concept is not live yet. Farmhopping intends to go live at the end of January.

via Farmhopping: A Bulgarian startup connecting farmers with environmentally-conscious consumers.

Photo: Jeroen Bennink, Flickr

 

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Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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