So confession time – I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to information feeds – especially on the subject of minimalism, local food production, growing, baking, fermenting, old tractors, machining bits for said old tractors and generally “how things work”. I’m subscribed to a number of podcasts, a fair few you-tube feeds, some WordPress blogs, and some e-zines.
These are individuals and businesses I follow in the digital world.
Creators creating online content that I consume.
I am a digital patron of their endeavours.
One of the podcasts I regularly follow put me on to Patreon. Its the 21st century equivalent of a 17th century patron sponsoring a starving artist in order to give them the time and materials to paint or compose something wonderful. Patreon behaves a bit like crowdfunder with donations matched with progressive rewards. But instead of the aim of a lump sum for a one off project, Patreon is designed for regularly donations for regular rewards/interaction – in effect patrons paying the creators wages. Its a digital way of choosing to say – “keep doing what you’re doing. I like it. And I want more.”
Which got me thinking.
Would the Patreon model work to provide time and space to local food creators?
I’ve explored this idea below.
The concept of crowdfunded local food production is in itself nothing new. There are various community supported agriculture (CSA) models around to allow a local community to support individual or collective creation of local food. Vegbox subscriptions, pig shares, food assemblies, local currencies – to name a few.
But in general the CSA models I see are geared to the hard production of food from established businesses of a certain size – both the size of the community and the size of the food producer. They do not provide time and space to small local food creators akin to the starving 17th century artist. Which is probably because the small local food creator does not have enough size / momentum / gravity to guarantee output in the same way an established food producer can. So who would be a Patreon to a local food creator who could not offer any guaranteed produce? One word trust. I enjoyed this piece by Mr money mustuche, suggesting some of the most exciting things are done on this basis – “people will either keep their word, or they won’t”.
And if this by some wonder a local food creator garnered the trust of an army of local and non local Patreons, what then? What would the creative rewards/interaction look like? Well for the locals Patreons it would come in the physical sharing of food produce that they have helped create. For non-locals it would be the digital sharing of information that led to the creation of that food (techniques, tools, tips).
Its sometimes useful to hypothesise on what you would focus on if money and time was not the prime mover; if, as that 17th century artist, one was thrown a patreon life line. This is the “10,000 ft analysis of looking down on your project from an overhead plane. Here at doughies, we would:-
- Keep small, drill down deeper and focus in on becoming a closed loop rye only micro-bakery (see my post here about the wonders of Rye).
- Closing the loop here between our bread and the soil by growing, processing and milling our own rye flour for use in our rye breads.
- Close the loop with our cows (beef) and other crops (fermented vegetables) as they seasonally interact with the grain growing.
- Close the loop on waste bread – and start a local fermented rye (Kvass) drink exchange.
This piece of fiction sums up the piece of local food tapestry we would love to create. It sounds wonderful but it is a few years hard graft to get going, and so we’ll be on the look out for local food Patreons shortly. Watch this space…..