NZ/UK husband and wife team Graeme and Jo Bradshaw have a unique perspective on rural enterprise: they're setting up a smallholding in Bulgaria's Rose Valley – a place where donkeys pull carts and farmers still plough with horses. The couple, with their two young daughters, has been investing lots of time and effort into restoring their 1948 mud brick property and establishing permaculture gardens, and now they are setting their sights on defining a new paradigm for tech-savvy rural enterprises.
Graeme, a winemaker from the Wairarapa (NZ), and Jo, a graphic designer and writer from Bristol (UK), have developed the term 'microfarmerpatronage.' Jo says 'it's a way for small producers to gain momentum and connect with their market directly……….connecting via the web and email.'
Jo and Graeme have spent the last couple of years growing their own garlic and last year, pumpkins. They also produce their one homemade wine and have developed a smoker for their garlic and now have a small online shop selling their fresh garlic, smoked garlic and garlic flakes as well artisan products.
However, what they wish to do is stop doing ad-hoc orders, and concentrate solely on providing our organic, home-grown and home-made products (including spices, teas, skincare) to those who wish to receive their products as well as a regular newsletter through a subscription format. The website will slowly develop into a place to sell digital information products such as help on companion planting, planning a sustainable home and garden, growing food with children and thinking about a sustainable winery.
The model uses a base of an online subscription to ensure a consistent income and enable the producer to plan ahead. 'We're actually starting off with two subscriptions,' says Jo, 'one which is web-only, through which we share an account of our experiments and discoveries and produce worksheets and planners to help our readers learn and gain confidence with their own gardening and sustainability goals.'
'The other is for those who would like to receive a share in our garden bounty: we dry and process our organic produce in order to make artisan and lightweight packages we can send to our more distant subscribers, while those closer are able to share in our fresh veg. And we're having lots of fun making natural balms and creams with the amazing local herbs and beeswax!'
A key element of the model is that those who commit to the subscription have a dialogue with the grower – they are asked early in the season about what they would like, and as the year progresses, they are able to join in with a conversation around the growing process.
The couple hopes to make the microfarmerpatronage model very transparent in order to help others who want to set up self-sustaining enterprises in rural areas.
'If we can help others move away from cities, grow food and help preserve the diversity of food species, then that has to be a good thing. And to make it sustainable; not just environmentally sustainable, but financially sustainable too,' adds Jo.
For more information and to subscribe visit http://www.tearsoforpheus.com/microfarmerpatronage
or contact Jo at/on:
Phone: +44 207 1930135
Mobile: +44 7984 905 843