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Pig farmer hopes to expand with online help - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Pig farmer hopes to expand with online help

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WEST TOPSHAM, Vt. -

A Vermont farmer has turned to an unusual source to raise money.

Walter Jefferies and his family have been raising pigs at Sugar Mountain Farm since 2003. Business is good. "Very good, we can't keep up with the orders," Jeffries said.

Jeffries' wife, Holly, trucks anywhere from five to a dozen pigs down to Athol, Massachusetts each week for slaughter and processing. It is a seven hour round trip.

In 2008 the family decided to build their own on-farm slaughter facility and do their own butchering. Part of the facility has already been built and the Jeffries are ready to proceed with the next step in construction this spring.

"By having it here it will be more humane for the animal. The other thing is by having our own cutting, under our control, we can do cuts that are hard to get the butcher to do. So, like the chefs request things that the butcher really does not want to do too," Jeffries added.

Jeffries, his wife and oldest son spent 18 months apprenticing with a master butcher to learn the trade. All the while working on their own facility.

Of course building the new facility takes money, and along with some traditional sources, Jeffries also turned to the Internet. Last week Sugar Mountain launched a Kickstarter on-line fundraiser. "Kickstarter is a website that is a crowd source funding where lots of people get together and everybody puts in a little bit of money to make a project happen," Jeffries said.

The goal is to raise 25-thousand dollars. Kickstarter and the credit card processor will take 10 percent off the top.

"I am glad to see it come to fruition. He has definitely gone his own route of doing it the way he wants to do it," said Randy Quenneville with the Vermont Department of Agriculture. Quenneville has worked with the Jeffries on their slaughter house plans every step of the way. He is not familiar with Kickstarter, but he applauds Jeffries' creativity. "But he is that type of guy. He does his homework and looks at all the options available to him, so I think it is a great thing and with technology today you have to use what is there," Quenneville said.

You might ask, why not just go to the bank and get a loan? "We did!" Jeffries chuckled. "I spent two years talking to banks and they are not lending. Specifically they said they are not lending to new or expanding businesses."

As part of the Kickstarter program donors will get something from the farm. "At the lowest level it's a t-shirt and at the highest level its a decade of pork," Jeffries said. "For the serious carnivore."

The Kickstarter funding drive ends May 15th at 10 p.m. The project will only be funded if at least 25-thousand dollars is pledged by then.

Donor's credit cards will not be charged until the project ends and is successfully funded. If it ends without reaching the goal, then no cards get charged.  Pledge Here

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