$20,000 in Community Microloans Awarded to Michigan Farms
$20,000 in Community Microloans Awarded to Michigan Farms
Earlier this year we shared info about applying for a community microloan program in Michigan sponsored by Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology, Grain Train Natural Foods Market and Oryana Community Co-op. Those microloans have been awarded for some really neat projects, described in this article. This innovative program could be emulated almost anywhere. Hint hint. – SFJ
BELLAIRE, MI – March 27, 2019 — Almost $20,000 were awarded in March to four farms in Northwest Lower Michigan including:
- Brendan & Greta Jankoviak of Harvest Thyme Farm & Vineyards in Cheboygan, MI
- Libby & Patrick Ives of Bliss Valley Farm LLC in Levering, MI
- Carissa Savage & Nathan Cornell of Lost Lake Farm in Honor, MI and
- Nic Welty of MI Farm Cooperative and 9 Bean Rows Farm in Suttons Bay, MI.
These farm project funds are provided through an innovative, zero-interest community microloan partnership between Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology in Bellaire, MI, Grain Train Natural Foods Market in Petoskey, MI and Oryana Community Co-op in Traverse City, MI.
Carissa Savage and Nathan Cornell of Lost Lake Farm have been awarded a microloan of $4,400 by to support the purchase of new, efficient hand tools and crop protection materials to improve current vegetable yields. Lost Lake Farm has been in operation for six years and currently produces pasture pork on 8 acres and over 90 varieties of vegetables on 1.5 acres. This microloan funded project will allow Lost Lake Farm to fulfill increasing demand for their produce in Benzie County and it will allow them to provide more food to neighbors in need through their local food bank, Benzie Area Christian Neighbors (BACN).
Farmer Nic Welty of 9 Bean Rows and the Leelanau county based MI Farm Cooperative has received a $5,600 microloan to cover some of the costs of a refrigerated truck to transport protein, frozen and processed products for both his own farm and for the MI Farm Coop. This farm funding is provided through an innovative, zero-interest community microloan partnership between Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology, Grain Train Natural Foods Market and Oryana Community Co-op.The MI Farm Cooperative has identified emerging opportunities for local farm product sales to local schools, especially due to the 10 Cents a Meal for School Kids & Farms program and this microloan will support expansion in product diversity the co-op can offer schools and other buyers through refrigerated delivery.
Patrick and Libby Ives of Bliss Valley Farm LLC have been awarded a $5,000 microloan to raise pastured laying hens on their farm this season thanks to an innovative community microloan partnership between Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology, Grain Train Natural Foods Market and Oryana Community Co-op. Bliss Valley Farms is a small, diversified vegetable farm run in Bliss Township, MI. Their farming improvements in the coming season will include moving chickens to forage in garden beds during a cover crop phase and also in surrounding pasture for fertilizing benefit to the soil. For three years, Bliss Valley Farm has built infrastructure to grow food on roughly an acre and they have developed markets for the sale of their produce that has allowed Patrick to farm full-time.
Brendan and Greta Jankoviak of Harvest Thyme Farm & Vineyard in Cheboygan have been awarded a $4,650 microloan, thanks to an innovative community partnership between Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology, Grain Train Natural Foods Market and Oryana Community Co-op. Harvest Thyme Farm is planning to use this community-supported, zero interest loan to build a mobile walk-in cooler in downtown Cheboygan for self-serve pickup of produce for farm-share members. Since 2014, Harvest Thyme farm has grown to include the sale of vegetables, herbs, flowers and plant starts at farm markets, restaurants and directly to more than one-hundred and fifty farm share families. This microloan funded project will increase convenience, save on labor costs and increase the availability of their produce to their members.
Brad Kik, Co-founder and Co-director of Crosshatch, explains the commitment of the microloan partners to this community program: “We believe that our community is stronger when more farms and food businesses are producing a greater diversity and percentage of what we eat. This microloan program helps farms to invest more at an important time of the season, to start new ventures and especially for new and beginning businesses to make food production more of a primary income source.”
Between November 2018 and March 2019, farmers, agribusinesses and food business entrepreneurs were invited to apply for this microloan program in 13 Michigan counties including Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Otsego, Leelanau, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Manistee, Wexford, and Missaukee. Representatives from Crosshatch, Grain Train, Oryana and other food and farming entities reviewed applications and decided to fund business project proposals which best exemplified two goals: boosting a farm or food business and elevating the region’s local food system.
Crosshatch and Grain Train launched this microloan program in 2016 with the goal to help local food business grow, while also building the area economy and supporting increased availability of local products to consumers. With this year’s awards, this partnership will have awarded $51,240 in microloans to date. For the 2019 microloan, Oryana added funds for the first time, designating $10,000 for businesses in a region within 100 miles of their store. This effectively doubled the total annual funds available to farms in northwest Michigan to $20,000 that have been distributed to farmers and food businesses this year.
The next microloan application process will kick off once again in November of 2019. Northwest lower Michigan Farms and food businesses can keep up with this and other farm training and support programs by visiting www.crosshatch.org
Crosshatch envisions communities that are grounded in place: where people connect through stories, music, art, shared work, and food, and where the economy and culture are rooted in restoration of the earth and its people.
Crosshatch promotes community learning, where education of all kinds takes place in the company of friends and neighbors. Crosshatch programs revolve around the essential work of artists, farmers and other creative makers, and so cast a wide net: from the daily details of the home-economy (including bees, mushrooms, fruit and nuts, soil health, food preservation and many many more), to the broader scope of artist residencies, guilds, shared resources and other ways to build creative, regenerative, and resilient local economies.