Silt’s Highwater Farm crowdfunding campaign raises $30,000 in three weeks to support upcoming youth program |

Silt’s Highwater Farm crowdfunding campaign raises $30,000 in three weeks to support upcoming youth program

A Silt nonprofit organization was recently able to raise big money within a little time frame to help support an upcoming project, according to an administrator.

Highwater Farm, a community farm space on the Silt River Preserve that encourages youth participation, has plans to launch a youth program for 2021 that will include teens and college students.

And, within a three-week crowdfunding campaign that began Dec. 1, the Silt non-profit has now raised $30,000.

“I am still blown away,” Highwater Farm Director Sara Tymczyszyn said of the community support. “I think this was encouraging for us at this time of year.”

In its first year, the farm and its volunteers used a half-acre plot to raise more than 8,000 pounds of fresh, quality vegetables. According to the farm, 4,000 pounds of that cumulative harvest were also distributed to the community using local hunger relief organizations.

Now that the farm has expanded to a full acre, Tymczyszyn said she has some high expectations for the summer youth program.

“I would hope to grow 15,000 pounds, 16,000 pounds of produce,” she said.

The program itself will span eight-weeks in the summer. The farm plans to hire 10 teens and two college students who will work and plant on the farm then sell their harvest at the local farmer’s market. They will also participate in various workshops and classes, said Tymczyszyn.

“It’s an opportunity for teenargers to earn basically $2,000 over the course of the summer,” she said.

Tomatoes, peppers, onions, squash — they’ll all be raised organically by the young farmers and sold at the market.

“I think it’s gaining more popularity with time, which is exciting,” Tymczyszyn said of the farmer’s market. “And I also think that farmers markets are a really cool platform for young businesses like ours to gain attraction.”

According to a recent news release, the fundraising campaign garnered more than 70 individual donors and local partners. Alpine Bank supplied a $10,000 grant to the non-profit.

“This project incorporates alternative education for youth in our community with a hands-on opportunity to learn about agriculture,” Alpine Bank Regional President Jay Rickstrew said in the news release. “It’s a fit with the bank’s support of local sustainability projects, and the farm provides food for Lift-Up. It’s a win-win-win.”

Silt Sand & Gravel next door to the farm also pitched in $5,000.

“We at Western Slope Materials / Silt Sand & Gravel are thrilled to be a part of the work that Highwater Farm is doing with our area’s youth and agricultural education,” Western Slope Materials owner and president of operations Travis Stewart said in the release.

Meanwhile, program participants will also be raising crops for Highwater’s 2021 Community Supported Agriculture program, which allows people to buy a share of the harvest in advance. In turn, they can come by the farm and pick up fresh produce on a weekly basis.

“I’m really excited to see this come to life,” Tymczyszyn said of the youth program. I think that, with all of the energy that we’ve put into it and the surrounding community has invested in the project so far, we’re going to have a really awesome summer youth program.”

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