Tryon family using Internet crowdsourcing to save farm

Ryan Cooke newsroom@journalpioneer.com
Published on June 5, 2013

David Best and his son Brian have turned to an Internet crowdsourcing campaign to raise $200,000 to continue operations on their family farm.

Ryan Cooke - Journal Pioneer

TRYON – It’s a sunny day in Tryon, with a clear blue sky and a cool breeze coming off the water. For 55 years, David Best would be farming on a day such as this.

But today, Best Acre Farms is a vast expanse of inactivity.

“I’ve been busy in some respects,” Best said as he watches his grandson run around the garage. “But in some others, not enough.”

Years of hardships, bad luck and a poor economy have left the potato farmer without a crop to plant this year for the first time in his life. The lenders simply won’t lend anymore, leaving Best and his family to look for other means of funding.

Where they found it, the 73-year-old Best never would have imagined…

The Internet.

“I know its capacity is unlimited, but I just never thought it would come to this.”

The idea came from his son, Brian, who had heard a story about an American bus driver who was abused by a group of children. A Canadian man started a crowdsourcing fund on the Internet to give the women a vacation. Within days, they had raised $600,000.

After a conversation with a friend about how to save the farm, Brian knew what to do.

“I realized this is what I have to do,” he said. “I jumped right on to Google and started reading about crowdsourcing, and that’s where it all started.”

The Bests started a campaign on the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo.com to raise $200,000 to save the family farm.

“When the lenders keep saying ‘no’, you’re in a box,” said Brian. “You’ve got to take a look out over and see if there’s anybody else out there. This crowdsourcing was like the last straw.”

Saving the farm is the top priority for the family, whose bloodline has occupied Best Acre Farms since before either of them was born.

“It’s been a family farm for a long time. My dad moved from Crapaud to Tryon in 1934, and that’s where it all got started.”

With nearly 80 years of history in the soil and 200 years in the region, the Bests haven’t thought about going anywhere else.

“We’re not thinking about that yet,” Brian said. “We’re focused on getting the word out to as many people as we can. The support that’s out there for a family farm is unreal.”

It’s been a rocky road to get to this point, with the latest disaster coming in 2008. Excess rain caused the Best family to lose 55 per cent of their crops, resulting in a loss of $600,000.

The excess debt from that year still haunts the Best family, leading to the banks declining them a loan this year.

“We’ve just been watered down, bit-by-bit,” David said.

Now with the fundraising campaign, they are hoping to chip away at the debt enough to get back out into the fields.

David’s wife, Heather, works to prepare supper as her grandson scurries about the kitchen. Known for her knack for baking, she’s agreed to offer up a copy of her secret recipes for anyone who donates $20 to the fund.

“I don’t mind giving them away,” she laughs. “Not under these circumstances anyways.”

Even though the final goal is still a long way off, one thing is for certain right now. Heather’s secret recipes will be spread far and wide when all is said and done.

Donations have been flooding in ever since they started the webpage on June 4, with people donating anywhere from $10 to an anonymous donation of $500.

“It puts a big lump in your throat, is what it does,” Brian said. “It’s amazing.”

“Thank God for small mercies,” his father chimed in.

After being flooded with phone calls about other ways to donate to the cause, the Bests have also started a bank account for the fund, for people reluctant to transfer money over the Internet. Information on how to donate can be found on the Best Acre Farms page at Indiegogo.com.

While they have no idea what the total figure will be, the Best family hopes to rally and save their farm, for all the other families who haven’t been able to.

“Family farms are exactly what they are. No matter how big or small, they belong to the family,” Brian said.

“They have a lot of history to them, and they have the right to stay that way rather than bow down and move for the big fella.”

Those inclined to contribute can visit: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/saving-best-acre-farms

 

newsroom@journalpioneer.com