Martha's Vineyard fibershed project
The goal of the MV Fiber project is to develop a cooperative marketing group of Martha’s Vineyard fiber producers, with a website to market member’s fiber products, from raw fleeces to finished items.
I had hoped to build a core team through the work with the grant. I ended up working alone. My original computer advisor, Heidi F, got a grant for her new business and responsibly let me know she would be too busy. I was able to get DK, whom I have worked well with in the past, to take over the website building at a bargain rate. Unfortunately he has been taken ill and there were technical delays as their team waited for a new operating system to come in. A partner in the project Liz T., decided she could not help yet, with all this, there is an organization with the name of “MV Fiber”. Through all this, the written grant material, like a business plan, was a very helpful reference as I could see in writing what I had said I would do. On the bright side, my advisor Glen J. has been supportive, and it has been a pleasure working with the team from SARE.
There have been several changes at the farm due to the project. I bought three lambs in hopes that I will soon be able to sell more wool. I sold more handspun yarn at the farm stand than I ever have, including some by mail. I expanded the dye garden and hosted two workshops. The networking with other farmers and potential customers has been fun. I feel, however, that my reputation as an effective organizer is on the line. Everyone is waiting to see if I will actually come up with this website and be able to sell their stuff for them as promised or not.
Some key elements of the project are not within my purview, especially the website construction. I am hopeful that the project will work out as planned in the end, although clearly my timeline is shot. I accomplished what I could reach…specifically; I held two meetings at the local Agricultural Society hall with a total of 18 fiber producers. This group is more unified than before, and is standing by awaiting results. I opened an email address, a bank account, and got a business license for MV Fiber. I got MV Fiber listed with the Chamber of Commerce and on their new Arts App. This required attending two informative workshops given by the Chamber.
I did lots of planning for the website with my web designer, DK and I did a display explaining the project, and demonstrating the stages of knitting a pig from raw fleece (Hog Wild was the theme of the fair.) 60 people left their contact information at this display. I arranged for MV Fiber to present an award at next year’s fair. I worked with a superb graphic designer, Max K, who donated her time and skill towards the design of our labels and posters. The label (with its yarn tie) multitasks, acting as a handout with a free sample of Island raised and dyed fiber. This label has been popular with all who have seen it. I have been reluctant to do anything more until there is a website to work with. I have done all the promotion I dare to do without the thing in hand. I have continued to develop my ideas for its promotion, and am poised to act when the site is actually working. I tried to get some advice from the Chamber of Commerce, who sent me to SCORE, who fought over me for a couple of weeks and finally admitted that they didn’t really know anything about e marketing. At this point I don’t know what more to do except keep bugging the web design team.
The results so far is the hopeful beginning of a marketing website and the creation of a waiting and expectant group of vendors and potential customers with a lot of enthusiasm.
We may need to get an extension and see if we can actually get this thing to fly as most of the preparation is done. I no longer have any idea how long it will take, but I am stubborn enough to find out.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Stony Hill Farm
PO Box 1471
West Tisbury, MA 02575
Office Phone: 5086969486