It's GROW time!

18 years old... we’re coming of age! As a proud parent, I am awestruck and humbled, watching our not-so-young cafe grow up. The adolescence is over, we’ve learned much in our teen years, and now we need a bigger room!

What a busy year we’ve had! We hosted some of our favorite food heroes including Will Allen, Fritz Haeg, and Michael Pollan. We helped found the True Food Chef Council supporting quality food at Minneapolis Public Schools. We had a slew of Crop Mobs at Riverbend Farm. We’re running an offsite commissary kitchen where, out of necessity, we bake our bread and prep other items to keep up. Our cook-book is coming together. The expansion plans are nearly finalized. We’ve got new printed menus and the list goes on! We could not have done it all without the efforts of our fantastic Birchwood crew and of course you—our friends, neighbors, and customers—who’ve been with us all the way. We are so grateful to be a part of your lives!

The expansion is coming!

Our goal is to expand and remodel our currenty facility by 2014. We have successfully, with great community support, rezoned our property for modest expansion to the south. We’ve drawn up plans with our architect, Wynne Yelland of Locus Architecture and contractors Gerry and Jamey Flannery. The building requires formidable renovations. Our plans reinforce infrastructure; add square footage and seats; enhance the patio with a wood trellis and, of course, add more bathrooms! We will offer a new Community Room for events and for general seating during peak times. We will have a state of the art kitchen with more space, refrigeration, and firepower so we can bring our baking and commissary operation back on site. We incorporate sustainable design with a rain garden, a rooftop solar panel array, reclaimed materials and energy efficient appliances and more! We will be better equipped to achieve our mission to nurture connectedness and community through local, organic and responsibly sourced food. Now we are hoping you’ll help us write our next chapter by pledging to our Kickstarter campaign—launching on October 27.

Why Kickstarter?

Well first, let me explain how it works. The website Kickstarter.com connects creative entrepreneurs with funding from many individuals or “backers”. Each kickstarter campaign has a funding goal and backers pledge dollars to achieve the goal before a set deadline. The campaign is all-or-nothing; the funding goal must be met on time or no money changes hands. In exchange for your pledge, you will receive exclusive experiences and other cool stuff. We have many offerings including a Riverbend Farm hayride and pizza party and special guest-chef dinners in the community room (Featuring Steven Brown, J.D. Fratzke, Michele Gayer, Joe Hatch Surisook, Mike Phillips, Alex Roberts, Lenny Russo and more!) Visit our campaign online at Kickstarer.com (starting at 6:00pm, October 27) to find more info as well as our full, extensive list of rewards.

You may be asking why an established business is seeking nontraditional financing. The extent of our project requires a significant investment, and there is a gap between conventional financing and the actual project costs. The conventional finance perspective looks at return on investment and more intangible benefits do not figure in. We are more than a cafe; the Birchwood is a hub for community revitalization, education, and local foods advocacy. We provide a container/incubater space for planning and good work as well as a model for socially responsible enterprise. There are also personal gains like meeting neighbors, friends, partners, and soulmates at the cafe; having a refuge from the busy day to day; eating food you trust with your family; making connections with farmers and CSAs… these benefits are not valued equally in the traditional financing world. We know our community values more than high returns and cash flow. We want to be more than profitable, we want our community to prosper along with us.

For us the Kickstarter campaign is more than a fundraiser; it represents a new inclusive relationship with our community. Supporting our campaign means we tighten the bonds of the fabric we have woven over 18 years. We want to enhance and engage our community even more deeply! Originally we were advised against this location because, back then, some less informed people deemed the neighborhood unsavory. Well now it’s sweet! Together we’ve put Seward on the map and we’ve helped grow and nurture a local food scene that’s the envy of the nation. Together we can take it further! ~ Tracy / #gobirchwoodgo