As 2021 gets underway, we at front porch greet you with a wish for a healthy and prosperous new year! This past year has been incredibly challenging for all of us, and we celebrate the fact that front porch can continue carrying out our mission, even though it looks much different than what we had pictured one year ago.
Throughout 2020, front porch worked with our Nepali liaisons who have been able to develop and implement programs to help support their communities. We have been continually impressed by the success that they have had as they experience their own cultural and economic crises in the midst of the global pandemic. Together with you, we have been able to help support their efforts, and for that we are deeply grateful. This has been a rewarding experience for us—and we are ready for more.
This year, our intent is to establish transparency through our Narrative with consistent public-facing storytelling as well as to build better awareness of the issues that underserved populations face around our global community. We will also spend time spotlighting the pursuits that engage our board members in order to deepen our connections with you and with each other.
FRONT PORCH HAPPENINGS & CONTRIBUTIONS
We have trust for a better future in our world. Even though this past year has been rife with challenges and travel to our liaisons’ communities was impossible, front porch was still able to continue building our relationship with our partners in Nepal, particularly with the Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation (KRMEF), located near Kathmandu, Nepal. KRMEF has shown their commitment to serve their community through several programs, including a covid-19 relief food drive and distribution, the establishment of a scholarship fund to help students stay in school, and an agricultural initiative designed to build better food security for those in need.
KRMEF’s tireless efforts have brought much needed assistance to dozens of families in their region. To help support their needs, front porch launched and facilitated two fundraising drives, through which we were able to raise over $2,400 USD. We again thank each of you who helped us make these resource connections to these Nepali families.
front porch also had the opportunity to reconnect with community needs in Haiti. Just after the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake, our founder Andy Mueller traveled there to assist in the rebuilding efforts. Along with a team of local and foreign volunteers, he was able to develop seismically responsive homes built from both post-consumer waste and sustainably sourced materials.
During this time, Andy and his crew constructed two demonstration buildings on the Haiti Communitere compound, which have since been used to house the work of the Tikay organization in Port au Prince. Tikay has thus been able to provide a safe and independent environment in which to operate an HIV and tuberculosis clinic as well as outreach programs to connect hundreds of Haitians with much needed health services each year.
Through the covid-19 pandemic, the front porch team was unable to travel but very much wanted to help these communities with whom Andy had once worked very closely. As we explored our options, we realized that front porch was in a unique position to help support the clinic’s pivot of focus to the coronavirus: A donation of the buildings to the organization would allow Tikay to continue with their work with a bit less stress, knowing that they would not have to direct any of their scarce funds to the buildings’ rental fees. front porch’s gift of these buildings, which amounts to a cash-in-kind donation of $10,000, allowed for the Tikay clinic’s growth and outreach to many more Haitians affected by COVID-19.
BOARD MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: TREASURER DANIEL FULLMER
Daniel has been a long-time work associate and friend of Andy’s: In 2006, Andy had placed an ad for crew members for his strawbale house building company, Greenspace Collaborative. Upon their first meeting, Andy recognized a hard-working and genuine soul, thus he hired Daniel to come out to New England to be a part of the building crew. Daniel packed his truck and drove out to Massachusetts from Colorado, and their working relationship was established. Along the way the two men became good friends and have stayed in touch through each of their various moves and stages of life. When Andy began to form the front porch’s infrastructure, an obvious choice was to invite Daniel to be a part of the board that has helped shape another forward movement of work.
In 2009, Daniel returned to Colorado, and with his wife Hana, he has since established a thriving no-till, diversified organic vegetable farm, Tierra Vida, in Durango, Colorado. Their passion for growing food in the healthiest, most sustainable way possible has driven their efforts to expand their vegetable-only farm of just over an acre, to a diverse enterprise with the addition of chickens and pigs and a recent purchase of 10 additional acres of farmland. Along with the inclusion of other young farming families, Tierra Vida Farm is poised to reach a wider audience in the coming years.
Daniel shares a bit of his past, present, and future engagements:
“Like for so many, 2020 was busy and complicated, but we have none to blame for ourselves. Rather than politics and covid making for a difficult year, we once again took on too much. A herd of pigs and another flock of chickens to help build soil combined with a busy farming season--with the same output as prior years but with half the payroll--meant that we did too much ourselves. All for a vision of saving some cash and buying land, which we accomplished this year.
Hurried by macro-economic pressures and worried that if we didn’t get a chair soon that the music would stop playing, we bought a 10-acre piece of Colorado farm land with good water rights and two modest rental properties. That was 5 months ago; now after catching up for years of deferred maintenance, digging a new well, and getting two great renters, we are getting to the point of taking a few days off before the next farming season ramps up.
We are looking forward to farming smaller and smarter going forward now that we have more fixed expenses--and hopefully not overworking ourselves just to do it again next year. It has been a lot of effort to get to this point but putting in place the complex systems will soon begin to pay off. We’ll still be producing lots of quality food for families in our area, while cycling carbon, building soil, becoming more resilient to drought and economic trends. Now we are helping another young couple who are farming at our new location do what we have achieved. It feels great to reciprocate the benefits and opportunities we have benefited from with this new piece of land.”
Many thanks to Daniel for that glimpse of farm life in Colorado! Developing and building upon strong community relationships is one of front porch’s driving values. We appreciate each of you who are doing the same in your own lives and communities, and we extend our hopes that we will all be able to continue to do so in the coming year and beyond.
Until next time, stay safe, sane, and healthy! Namaste.
A view of newest addition to Tierra Vida Farm