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In less than 24 hours after the barn at Pete's Greens in Craftsbury burned down in a raging fire, the Mad River Valley Localvore Project began planning a statewide online auction to raise funds to help rebuild the barn. Fourteen days later, the Localvores held a successful fundraiser that yielded $64,669 for Vermont farms and Pete's Green.
The group collected donations that included special chef-prepared
tasting menus at restaurants, on-farm dinners, overnight escapes and
outdoor adventures. In all, there were 336 items in the auction that
attracted over 500 bidders from 20 states, Washington, D.C., and
News of the auction spread quickly thanks to the Localvore's effective use of social media including Facebook and Twitter. Nancy Baron, who coordinated communications for the event, said that without effective social electronic networking, the audience for the auction would have been smaller, it would have taken longer to organize and much less money would have been raised.
The Mad River Valley was well represented both in terms of donations and bidders. Over 25 individuals in the Mad River Valley had winning bids in the auction. Three Valley businesses, Sugarbush, David M. Dion, and Harvest Ltd. were sponsors of the auction. Donated items for the auction came from 41 local businesses.
In a statement in a newsletter to his CSA shareholders, Pete's Greens' owner Pete Johnson indicated that he was humbled by the outpouring of support he has received since the fire on January 12. Johnson says that the money that has been donated through the auction and other fund-raising efforts will be circulated through the Vermont farm community many more times because of his plans to "pay it forward."
"We are accepting this money as we were underinsured and we need it to rebuild. But we have committed to pay it forward. In two to three years' time, when we are back on stable financial ground, we'll pay forward the money that has been donated into a special fund to support Vermont agriculture."
Ironically, the auction ended on the day that the Mad River Valley Localvores have traditionally held their Souper Bowl, which they announced in early January that they would not be holding this year.
To learn more about the Bid for the Barn Auction and other fundraisers for Pete's Greens that are in the works, go to www.BidfortheBarn.org.