03/18/13 8:00am
03/18/2013 8:00 AM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Regan and Carey Meador in front of what will soon be Southold Farm & Cellar’s tasting room. They will plant their ‘weird grapes’ on seven of the 23 acres behind the building.

Long Islanders with novel business ideas have been using the fundraising website kickstarter.com to finance innovative projects that promise to add diversity to North Fork commerce.

Four local projects have received the green light thanks to the unique site, and another has high hopes of reaching its goal.

Unlike platforms that raise money for research or medical expenses, Kickstarter is intended to help people with creative ideas generate financial support for a new enterprise.

“There’s a lot of amazing, imaginative projects coming to life, and that’s great,” said Justin Kazmark, spokesperson for Kickstarter.

Everything on Kickstarter must have a specific goal, such as recording an album or publishing a book. Whatever the effort, it must produce a result, according to the Kickstarter website. Approximately 75 percent of proposed projects are accepted by the site.

The concept for Kickstarter emerged in 2001, when co-founder and CEO Perry Chen had such an idea, but no way to tell if it was worth the risk of investing in.

“He thought to himself what if there was a way to determine if there was a sufficient amount of interest in a project like that,” Mr. Kazmark said.

Mr. Chen, along with Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler, launched Kick-starter on April 28, 2009.

Project creators who turn to Kickstarter set a fundraising goal and a deadline up to 60 days away and are given a webpage to explain their goal. They may even include videos to help get their message across. To provide an incentive for donors, who can give as little as a dollar, creators also craft rewards for backers. If the project reaches its fundraising goal by deadline, the backers’ credit cards are charged. Kickstarter.com retains 5 percent of total amount of funding collected.

If the entrepreneurs don’t reach their goal, they receive no money, Mr. Kazmark said.

Since Kickstarter’s launch about 89,709 projects have been proposed and over $518 million has been pledged. More than 37,000 projects reached their fundraising goals, with about $435 million charged to backers’ credit cards, according to the website.

Four of those successfully funded projects are rooted in the North Fork.

Having spent eight years brewing at home, Central Islip couple Matthew and Lauri Spitz dreamed of starting a craft brewery. They created a Kickstarter campaign and met their goal on May 23, 2012. The couple raised over $30,000 to help establish Moustache Brewing Company in Riverhead.

“You basically have to sell yourself and your idea,” said Ms. Spitz. “Why should somebody give you money? Asking for money to fulfill our dream, it’s weird, but we figured we’ll give it a shot.”

The developing brewing industry moved closer to making the North Fork a craft beer destination thanks to another successful Kickstarter campaign.

Wading River hop farmer John Condzella surpassed his Kickstarter goal of raising $27,000 toward bringing a German hop harvesting machine to the East End. It will be available for cooperative use among start-up hop producers on the North Fork.

The hop processor will make the once time-consuming harvesting season fly. Without it, harvesting one plant by hand takes about an hour, Mr. Condzella said. “The machine will do that same plant in about 30 seconds,” he said.

Mr. Condzella reached his goal March 4 and raised $30,398 by March 10 with 320 people backing his project.

Just one day earlier, chef Keith Luce of Mattituck reached his $50,000 Kick-starter goal to create what he described as “true farm-to-table artisan products,” with cured meats from humanely raised animals from his family farm.

Mr. Luce raised $51,090 from 96 backers. He said social media was key to reaching his goal.

“I’m very active on social media and it’s one of the reasons why I decided to go down that avenue,” he said. “I believe I created a bit of a buzz, which is always good when you are starting a new endeavor.”

There was certainly a buzz about Southold couple Regan and Carey Meador’s Kickstarter campaign, “Bring Weird Grapes to the North Fork,” which met its $15,000 goal Saturday. The couple will plant four grape varieties distinct from others cultivated across the North Fork.

Their start-up vineyard, Southold Farm & Cellar, could have its wine ready for tasting by 2015, Mr. Meador said.

So far they’ve raised more than $22,000 from 133 backers. If they reach 223, the Meadors said they’ll let their backers choose the grape varieties they’ll plant next.

“We have reached our goal but we want as many people as possible to hear about it,” Mr. Meador said. “There is a community around what we’re doing and we want them to be part of the process.”

cmiller@timesreview.com

03/07/13 6:00pm
03/07/2013 6:00 PM
wading river hops for microbreweries

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO |
John Condzella hand-harvesting hops at his family’s farm in Wading River last August.

With a week to spare, hop farmer John Condzella surpassed his $27,000 kickstarter goal to purchase a German hops harvesting machine that will be available for cooperative use among start-up hop producers on the North Fork.

Mr. Condzella, of Condzella Farms in Wading River, started the fundraising campaign Feb. 5 and had until March 10 to complete it. He met his goal Monday to purchase the Wolf WHE 140 Hopfen Pflückmaschine harvester from Germany.

“The machine is being prepared to be shipped in Europe,” Mr. Condzella said. “I am going to be going over there in a couple weeks to seal the deal and purchase it.”

Once it arrives on the Island, he will need to convert the processor from European electric to American electric, he said.

“[Hop harvesting] starts in the middle of August, so we really want to get the machine here no later than the beginning of June,” Mr. Condzella said.

The hop processor will make the once time-consuming harvesting season fly-by for East End’s hop producers.

“We weren’t even able to harvest our full acre last year,” Mr. Condzella said. “We worked at it night and day for a while.”

It takes about one hour to harvest one plant, Mr. Condzella said.

“The machine will do that same plant in about 30 seconds,” he said.

There are just under 1,000 plants on Mr. Condzella’s single acre hop farm in Wading River, “with [the processor] and two people we could do the whole acre in eight or nine hours.”

Mr. Condzella said Southold couple Andrew Tralka and Jaclyn Van Bourgondien of Farm to Pint in Peconic will also be using the processor to harvest their hops this season and expand their farm.

“Without that hop picker on the North Fork it wouldn’t have been economical or efficient for hop growers out here,” Mr. Tralka  said.

“We are extremely thankful to our backers,” Mr. Condzella said. “It enables us to move forward with our original plan of growing hops. You think you can hand pick them, but this machine is going to knock away barriers and allow us to grow into it, add acreage and expand our business.”

Harvesting time matters for local brewers with special batches of ale in the works. Some can only be produced from fresh, wet hops. The processor will allow farmers to harvest and maintain larger hop farms, supplying local brewers with the quantity of hops they need.

“It allows us to now have a local source of hops as opposed to outsourcing hops,” said Greg Martin, co-founder of Long Ireland Brewing Company. “We’re a local business and we want to support other local businesses.

Mr. Condzella was “the first local guy that has a harvestable crop that was usable for us,” Mr. Martin said.

The hop processor brings brewers one-step closer to their goal of a truly local brew, but a truly local product is still impossible without local production of malted barley.

Funds for the hop processor will become available to Mr. Condzella on Sunday, according to the kickstarter website. Kickstarter.com provides a space for entrepreneurs to raise money for creative projects. If a given project does not reach its goal, no money is collected.

cmiller@timesreview.com

02/15/13 6:00pm
02/15/2013 6:00 PM
wading river hops for microbreweries

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO |
John Condzella hand-harvesting hops at his family’s farm in Wading River last August.

After this year’s first hops harvest proved too much to harvest at Condzella Farms in Wading River, fourth-generation farmer John Condzella has posted an online fundraiser at kickstarter.com to help him purchase a German hops harvesting machine.

The machine shakes plants’ bines free of hops, and then processes the important beer-making ingredient.

Since launching the online fundraiser last week (see video), Mr. Condzella has raised more than $8,000 of the $27,000 needed for a Wolf WHE 140 Hopfen Pflückmaschine.

There’s now just 23 days left.

“It has the ability to harvest an acre of hops in an 8-hour day with two people operating the machine,” Mr. Condzella said.  ”If hand-picking it would take about 500 hours for the same two people.”

It takes about an hour for a person to harvest one hops plant, he said.

The machine would not only benefit Condzella farms, but other hops producers in the area.

Mr. Condzella said he wants the machine to be used cooperatively for those area farmers already growing hops or hoping to grow them in the future.

“I get calls from farmers who are curious about hops and the potential to sell them to local breweries,” he said.

The project already has the support of breweries such as Long Ireland Beer Company and the upcoming Moustache Brewery, both in Riverhead’s Polish Town area.

“We’re so happy to support them and to be able to have them as a local hop farmer,” said Lauri Spitz of Moustache Brewing Company.

Brewers are looking at local hops as the next step for providing a truly local product.

“People love to drink local, but what they don’t realize is that most of the ingredients actually come from faraway places like the other side of the United States, the UK or the Midwest,” said Michael Philbrick, owner of Port Jefferson Brewing Company in Port Jefferson. “The ability to get hops that are grown in your own backyard, practically and use them as fast as possible and as fresh as possible is a giant asset to Long Island.

“It greens the community, it greens our process, above all else, it’s a fresher and more quality ingredient that I know exactly where it came from.”

Kickstarter.com provides a space for entrepreneurs to raise money for creative projects. If a given project does not reach its goal, no money is collected.

gvolpe@timesreview.com