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Oak Tree community farm owner says overwhelming support has given hope to fundraising challenge

PUBLISHED: 10:00 28 July 2015

Joanne Mudhar, owner of the Oak Tree community farm in Rushmere St Andrew.

Joanne Mudhar, owner of the Oak Tree community farm in Rushmere St Andrew.

A Suffolk farm has turned to crowdfunding in an effort to keep itself afloat.

John Revell picks beans at Oak Tree Low Carbon farm in Rushmere St Andrew.John Revell picks beans at Oak Tree Low Carbon farm in Rushmere St Andrew.

The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm in Rushmere St Andrew is a community agricultural project where members commit to volunteering there each week in return for a share of the produce.

But after a donation to help support the enterprise fell through it is now faced with having to close at the end of September if it cannot raise enough money to continue.

The three paid staff are currently voluntarily working for less than the minimum wage in order to help make ends meet.

To try and plug the gap the farm’s owner Joanne Mudhar has turned to crowdfunding to generate the cash.

The idea behind crowdfunding is for people to donate money to funding a project in return for claiming a reward which is a product of the successful scheme.

The target for Oak Tree Farm is £27,000 and Mrs Mudhar said around £8,000 has already been raised in three days.

“It’s going really, really well,” she said. “It’s quite overwhelming the support we have had.”

She said the mood at the farm, which has around 200 members as well as the paid staff, was low when the planned-for donation fell through at the last minute.

“It was really awful. People were really upset.

“I don’t think any of us really believed it could stop.”

The farm covers around 12 acres and produces a range of vegetables, fruits and flowers as well as having pigs, bullocks and chickens.

Mrs Mudhar said there was a great deal of camaraderie amongst members.

“There are a lot of firm friendships made,” she said. “You make friends with people from all walks of life.”

And when the first donations started coming in the previously dark mood became more upbeat.

“It was unbelievable,” Mrs Mudhar added. “There were a few tears when the first bids were coming in.”

If the farm, now in its seventh year, meets its fundraising total it will try to stretch the target to £38,000 which will give it further security.

To donate money to the farm visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-the-oak-tree or for more information about the farm visit http://www.the-oak-tree.co.uk.


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