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Growing a Farm With Crowd-Sourced Money

Kickstarter is a website where people give money to support creative projects. It started in two thousand nine, mostly to help artists and musicians. Now, inventors, people starting businesses and a growing number of farmers are raising money on this site for crowd-sourced funding.

Josh Brill and Meadow Squire grow vegetables and rice in Tinmouth, a town in the northeastern state of Vermont. Last year they used Kickstarter to raise more than six thousand dollars to increase their rice production. Seventy-six people watched the couple's six-minute video and believed enough in their dream to send them money. Another farmer in Vermont, Scott Nelson, raised almost nine thousand dollars. He wanted to document the growth and development of his farm to teach others who are interested in organic farming, as a video explained. Bigger ideas have raised much more for some farmers among the projects on Kickstarter.

In all, on a recent day, there were forty-five hundred creative projects seeking money on the site. Site officials reported three million dollars in weekly pledges. To raise money on Kickstarter, people need to think of a project with a clear goal. Then they need to get the project approved by the site. Many project creators make a video to explain what their project is and why people should support it. Projects have a time limit, generally about thirty days, to meet their funding goal. Kickstarter uses an all-or-nothing funding method. Projects do not get any money unless they meet their goal. Kickstarter gets five percent of the money raised, but only if the goal is met. takes another three to five percent for credit card processing fees. To get people to pledge money, projects also include a list of thank-you gifts for different levels of support.

Josh Brill and Meadow Squire gave supporters rice, seeds and, for fun, "good karma" points. They say they are happy with their experience using the site to raise money for their new rice paddies.Meadow Squire calls it "free advertising" for them. Many people now know they grow rice and know more about their farming practices. She points out that the experience would not have been the same if they had just gotten a loan from a bank. Josh Brill says one pledge came all the way from New Zealand. In his words, "When someone is willing to put up their money for your farm, that means something. It's like you would feel bad if you couldn't succeed for them."

For VOA Special English, I'm Alex Villarreal. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 29May2012)