What is the Crescent Fund?
The Crescent Fund is one way in which the Crescent City Farmers Market makes good on its pledge to positively impact the public good: Actions that are good for vendors, shoppers, and the wider community.
From where do the funds come?
When we convert shoppers’ checks, credit and debit cards into our wooden token currency — The Crescent — shoppers contribute a mandatory $1 for us to manage the Crescent Economy (of wooden tokens) plus $1(or more) optional to be placed into the Crescent Fund. Additionally, when vendors redeem their wooden tokens, they too are given the option to set aside some portion for Crescent Fund investment.
How does it work?
Funds are devoted to three areas of interest:
1. CCFM vendor product diversification: Do you notice products missing at the Market? You know, ones you wish could be sourced locally? Here’s where consumer-driven agriculture comes to the rescue. Share with us your preferences? We will present product ideas you identify to farmers and fishers. With them, we will select the most viable for experimentation; purchase seeds and whatever else are required; request vendor volunteers; and wait for the results. Participating vendors will be required to share some of the first harvest with shoppers to sample.
2. Shopper amenities: Beyond the hustle and bustle of farmers market commerce, the CCFM is also a place where we grow community. Each year, we will devote Crescent Fund dollars to stage events at Market that contribute to the quality of life for shoppers. These include amenities like free chair massage therapy at Tax Day.
3. Community benefits: We are pleased to offer on a first-come first-served basis the following contributions to organizations and efforts that contribute to the public good.
• Seasonal Health Box for health fairs
• Seasonal produce baskets for fundraiser events
• Copies of the Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook
Who can apply?
1. CCFM vendor product diversification: All shoppers are encouraged to voice their preferences for new products to grow and sell at the Market. Only current CCFM vendors will be invited to participate in experimental pilots.
2. Shopper amenities: If you are present at the Market, then you get to enjoy these additional amenities. Who decides what kind of amenities? Well, we’d love to hear from you about prospective events that add value to the CCFM community experience.3. Community benefits: In order to receive fresh product or CCFM Cook Book copies, your effort must contribute to the public good. While registered nonprofit corporations (501c3) may be our preference, we also acknowledge that other, less formal efforts also contribute to the public good: health fairs, school fundraisers, community gardens, etc. To apply, email us a brief description of the efforts for which you seek support in the form of a seasonal health box, produce basket and/or a signed copy of the Crescent City Farmers Market Cook Book.
The Market Umbrella Community Advisory Team accepts requests and makes recommendations for CCFM staff.
How often are investments made?
The Market Umbrella Community Advisory Team meets quarterly; however, it accepts requests for community benefit contributions on a rolling basis. In 2012 the Crescent Fund allocates up to a total of $500 towards community benefit gifts (of CCFM Cook Books and Seasonal produce baskets). Each gift is valued at between $30-$50. Shopper amenity events are scheduled twice per year. Vendor product diversification projects are funded on a rolling basis.
Vendor shares a portion of the 1st harvest of new product for shopper tastings. If this product is not an agricultural raw product but rather the purchase of a piece of equipment that allows for drying strawberries, then the word harvest is not quite accurate.
Shoppers give back (after having their back rubbed, in the case of the massage therapy) by continuing to shop and invest in the CFund.Community groups give back by agreeing to list the CCFM as a donor as per the PDF agreement to receive the contribution. We will also likely provide them with digital or hard copy artwork “Gift Provided by…”
TOTAL FUNDS: $8,227.06
The making of a Crescent Fund
Born out of creative community responses to the 2005 hurricane season, we established the Crescent Fund with initial investments provided by the National Rural Funders’ Collaborative; Carrbora, NC Farmers Market; FreshFarm Market in Washington, DC; and contributions from hundreds of readers in Japan who contributed to author Ryoko Sato’s book signing events promoting her book on American farmers markets. CCFM Vendors and shoppers contributed monies into a fund that was greatly inspired by the giving circles movement. From here, two important principles shaped the Crescent Fund: 1) Assets come in many forms, not just financial; and that 2) investments should be returned via in-kind or cash. This yielded the concept in which social enterprise investments are required repayment via time, talent or treasure.
In 2008, we expanded the Crescent Economy – our wooden token system accommodating checks, credit, debit, and benefit cards — by implementing a token handling fee for all other than benefit card transactions. With this evolution, we instituted a system whereby the CCFM facilitated requests for projects seeking $500 cash infusions that yield public good (benefiting vendor innovation, consumer health, and community benefit). Please remember, this was long before Kickstarter began to kickstart enterprises of both social and commercial purposes. For 3 years, we made $6,000 in $500 investments to a wide array of innovative community efforts and food producing enterprises based on recommendations provided by community voting (online and in Market).
In 2012, we determined that the requests for and investments in high-speed community and vendor innovations no longer matched the mood of the Market or the expressed desire for grassroots philanthropy (or alternative philanthropy) to plan for change, rather than simply respond to the crises of change. In short, we have redesigned the Crescent Fund to better fulfill the purpose of the Crescent City Farmers Market to deliver public good to the CCFM community.