Local honeybee and pollinator advocate Sam(antha) Burns of the Runamuk Acres Farm & Apiary announces her plan for the Runamuk Conservation Farm. The farmer and beekeeper intends to create a pollinator sanctuary somewhere between botanical garden and working farm, where workshops and tours with the public will promote bee-friendly gardening, landscaping, and farming. On September 1st the Runamuk Acres Farm and Apiary will be launching their campaign to raise funds for the down payment on their forever-farm home.
A little about Runamuk
Established in 2010 on an acre of leased land in Anson, lady-farmer and beekeeper Sam(antha) Burns has managed to grow a thriving apiary business that offers locally produced raw honey and beeswax products like soap and herbal salves. Land-access and lack of capital are 2 of the biggest obstacles beginning farmers are facing today, according to USDA studies, yet beekeeping allowed Sam(antha) to grow her business despite being a land-less farmer.
Still, choosing to focus a business on bees at a time when keeping bees alive has been extremely difficult.
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Nationwide, beekeepers are seeing an average of 38% loss in hives annually. Researchers have found that these losses are due to a combination of factors, including pests like the Varroa mite─a parasite that feeds on the blood of the bee, weaking it’s immune system and introducing a variety of diseases─but climate change, agricultural practices and land-development all play a part too. In fact, studies show that we are seeing significantly reduced populations of native pollinators as well.
Though Sam(antha) Burns did not set out to become a pollinator conservationist, her love for bees has spurred Runamuk’s commitment to bee-friendly gardening and farming. She has volunteered her time and energy throughout central Maine, teaching the public about bees and beekeeping, and about pollinator conservation. This passion and dedication has inspired the Runamuk Conservation Farm: a cross between botanical garden and working farm/apiary, where workshops and tours will promote bee-friendly gardening, landscaping, and farming.
Read about the vision for the Runamuk Conservation Farm.
To bring the vision for the Runamuk Conservation Farm to life, we’ve decided to launch a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for the down-payment on a property that will allow Runamuk to put down roots, plant the perennial crops that will form the foundation of our conservation farm, and finally begin the good work Runamuk is destined to perform.
The Runamuk FarmRaiser: a Bee-Friendly Project
Our resources are limited; like so many other beginning farmers, lack of capital has posed an obstacle in building up the Runamuk business. Currently we’re saving for a down payment; Sam(antha) continues to work part-time off the farm at Johnny’s Selected Seeds to be able to squirrel funds away, and we’re living in less-than-ideal conditions to keep our overhead as low as possible.
The goal: We hope to raise $20,000 for a 20% down-payment on a property with a $100K price tag, but any amount raised will help in the purchase. If we should raise more than the $20K it would mean a lower mortgage or a better property (gasp! maybe even one with housing?), and if we don’t raise that much, that’s ok too─at least we’ll have a chunk of change to offer or to help with closing costs.
When? The FarmRaiser campaign will go live on September 1st, with a series of thank you gifts offered to contributors including things like beekeeping lessons with Sam(antha) via Skype, reserved admission on future workshops at the farm, advertising for your business on the Runamuk website, gift certificates, and personalized thank you videos.
Workshop & Party! On October 1st Runamuk has scheduled a beekeeping workshop at Hyl-Tun Farm in Starks where the Runamuk apiary is located. This is a day-long workshop designed to get anyone started with beekeeping. Later that same day Runamuk’s friends and supporters can gather in the barn at Hyl-Tun Farm for a potluck farm dinner and contradance. Proceeds from these events will go directly to the Runamuk FarmRaiser project.
With the spotlight on bees over the last several years there are people and companies across the country and all over the world working on various projects with varying degrees of success. Runamuk has already made some impact on it’s regional community largely because it is driven by the tireless efforts of owner/operator, Sam(antha) Burns, and her passion and dedication to pollinator conservation.
For nearly 6 years Sam(antha) was the President of the Somerset Beekeepers, a county chapter of the Maine State Beekeepers’ Association. She volunteered her time and knowledge to teach local bee-schools, offer workshops, presentations and lectures throughout Maine to educate the public about bees and beekeeping, bee-friendly gardening and farming, and pollinator conservation through agriculture. Though she is no longer the figurehead for the Somerset Beekeepers, Sam(antha) continues to be a vocal advocate for pollinators, giving a well-received talk at MOFGA’s Common Ground Fair in the fall of 2016.
Sam(antha)’s passion and drive extend beyond bees to local food and farming and 5 years ago the farmer and beekeeper founded the Madison Farmers’ Market in her hometown. As the market director, Sam(antha) has enrolled the organization in the Maine Harvest Bucks program so that customers can shop with their EBT card and receive matching “Bonus Bucks” for the purchase of fruits and vegetables from their local farmers. To make the market more fun for kids and bring in more families, Sam(antha) put together a new Kid’s Club program, which was sponsored by Backyard Farms, and every week the market celebrates a different kid-friendly theme with fun activities designed to foster relationships between the community and it’s farmers. This small town market has grown from 2 to 10 farmers─all equally dedicated to the cause─and together this grassroots organization has fostered a new sense of community in Madison.
Through her volunteer work and community outreach Sam(antha) has developed a reputation as a bee-lover and environmental steward that will aid her in bringing her vision for the Runamuk Conservation Farm to life. She has become a dependable force within her community and throughout the region, and the day will come when Runamuk will be a conservation and demonstration farm because Sam(antha) has the determination and the passion to see it through.
The “Runamuk FarmRaiser: a Bee-Friendly Project” Campaign Launches: September 1st, 2017.
If you like what we’re about and want to support our cause in a monetary fashion, you can Donate to our Down Payment Fund (supported by PayPal) with the button below.
You can also help make this happen just by sharing our story with others to spread the word of our search for a forever-farm home for Runamuk. And be sure to subscribe to the Runamuk blog so that you never miss an update!