Editor’s note: Startland News is continuing its “Fund Me, KC” feature to highlight area entrepreneurial efforts to accelerate businesses or projects. If you or your startup is running a crowdfunding campaign, let us know by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Today’s featured campaign from Kansas City-based East Aster Brewing, which applies lessons from microbiology and microbrewing to gardening in challenging soil.
Your name and title with the business?
Kara Tweedy and Drew Arensberg, co-owners of East Aster Brewing.
What’s the name of your company and what does it do?
East Aster Brewing is a microbrewery for your garden. We fuse our drive and passion for healing degraded land with cutting-edge research in microbiology to holistically solve the most common problems our Kansas City gardeners, local food producers, and lawn-lovers face.
East Aster was actually an idea based off another project we started, aiming to shift vacant lots into local food production, bolstering Kansas City’s local food supply. We are sick of eating pesticide-laced food! After three years of working on this project, we discovered one of the main bottlenecks in getting more produce into the local food system was poor soil and the lack of understanding around what makes good soil great at producing food. East Aster Brewing is our solution to this problem — we analyze soil samples under a microscope and use high-powered compost to create a custom brewed infusion to rejuvenate the extremely critical microbiology in our client’s soil, specifically tailored for what our clients plan to grow.
East Aster Garden Infusions are crafted at our brewery in East Kansas City and will be filled in growlers for customers to take home and apply to their yards, gardens, or urban farms.
How much money do you hope to raise with your campaign?
What do you plan to use the funds for?
If we reach our Kickstarter goal, we will be able to purchase the equipment we need to scale up the production of our microbiology inoculations, which will help growers start producing higher yields and deal with pests and plant disease. We call these liquids “infusions” and these are the growlers customers will be able to pick up from our brewery! We’ll be like the Apple genius bar for soil, and the Boulevard Brewery of soil remedies.
How are you differentiating your campaign or bringing attention to it?
Unlike most Kickstarter campaigns, we have focused on a highly localized outreach since our product is created specifically for the Kansas City bioregion, and will not be shipped. We have contacted like-minded organizations across KC, as well as people who believe in healing our degraded soil, enjoys nature, or gardens in any way.
We are also working with Kansas City Community Gardens and their Schoolyard Garden Program to bring soil and environmental education to some of their schools. Part of our Kickstarter allows backers to donate specifically to our Schoolyard Tour project, allowing us to bring our knowledge and product into the classroom. We are using the $10 donation spot that Kickstarter usually has for a “no reward” section to help out our local KC schools!
Along with that, we have a speaking event on April 28 at Yoga Patch to talk all things soil and East Aster, as well to provide more local outreach!
Is there anything quirky, fun or unusual you’re trying with your campaign?
We really wanted to make our Kickstarter video fun. When you talk about soil — especially soil microbiology, peoples eyes can really glaze over. We shot our video on our future farm on a freezing Saturday in March with a keg of beer, a couple pizzas, some green paint, and really awesome friends! It was a blast, and it really comes through in the video. Our microbrewery model is also a fun twist on everything soil and plants. Who else is creating a micro brewery for your soil! We don’t want to create a boring organization with a boring mission. We want to make an incredible impact on Kansas City’s environmental footprint and transform our local food system and we want anyone who believes in what we believe to have fun making a difference.
What’s some advice you have to others launching a crowdfunding campaign?
Don’t rely on social media to sell your campaign. “If you build it” does not mean they’ll come. You have to do a lot of groundwork and reach out to real people who care about what you’re doing.