FARM & FOOD LEARNING CENTER UPDATE
Dear Members, Sustainers, Supporters, and Friends,
I’m sure many of you are curious about the status of the Farm & Food Learning Center. While I would like to report that construction is underway, unfortunately we have hit another snag. We are working through this as quickly as possible and are extremely anxious to begin. At this point, we are waiting for spring and using these winter months to get all of our ducks in a row.
Back in the summer of 2015, we put the project out to bid after lots of painstaking work to make it as perfect as it could be. The definition of perfect included what we felt like were minimalist but quality finishes.
When the bids came in, they were more than double, triple, and quadruple what we had estimated! Is this because federal money is involved? We don’t know for sure, but maybe it sent an incorrect signal. It is true that the cost of federal projects is more expensive, but only by an estimated 20 percent.
In reaction, many of you who knew the situation stepped in with strategic experts and expertise. After incorporating all the advice, our new strategy is to divide the project into the essential parts expected by the grant (functional kitchen, training space, bathrooms) and the additions (porch, cover over the front stoop, file room, some interior walls, shower). We have also sacrificed quality with some of the finishes. For instance, the bathroom walls will be covered with plastic sheets rather than tile. Perhaps a volunteer or additional donation could help us install tile at a later time. After all, we just have some federal money and everything else has been made possible by YOU!—an incredible community of support!
With new strategies in hand, we are almost ready to put the project out to bid again. We are also hopeful that we have done a better job getting the word out about the project and that that will result in more competitive bids—feel free to spread the word!
When the next round of bids come, we will know better our financial situation and how we stand with the amount of money that we have raised. We are pretty sure we will need more! When we move in, we will be in need of furniture, technology, cabinetry, shelving, and other necessities and it is unlikely that our currently raised dollars will stretch to cover those things.
So please get involved in bringing this project to fruition so that the teens of our Farm & Food Training Program can continue to grow and develop their businesses and Farm Day Campers, local school children, and the entire community has an amazing farm & food based learning space as well.
Your generosity is so deeply appreciated from the bottom of all of our hearts! Thank you!
The Board, Staff, and Program Participants of Rural Resources