For those of you that have followed us from the beginning, you may know we jumpstarted our farm with a crowd-sourced business loan for $10,000 through Kiva.org. Over 200 individuals contributed to this loan with an average loan of $48. This helped us complete our first hoophouse.
It was a supposed to be a 3-year loan. We paid it off 10 months early. Why? The farm is growing at a rapid rate, and we wanted to show our lenders how much of a boost it provided. In addition, by paying that one off so quickly, we are able to apply for a 2nd loan. And we have! We are 2 days into the 30-day fundraising process and have already raised 20% of the total. Sound interesting?
You can see the full loan here: https://www.kiva.org/lend/1249042
Otherwise, just keep reading for a description of the business development over the last couple of years and what we intend to do with the loan funds!
We decided to start this business to practice what we preach, become good stewards of the environment, and improve our local community. We started our business just about 4 years ago, and it has been one heck of a ride so far! Perhaps we were naive, but we did not realize JUST how much demand existed for local, organic farm goods. We thought we had some good ideas, but we did not realize just how fast we would need to run to keep up. We’re proud to have been profitable for the last 2 years, but our biggest challenge continues to be keeping up with demand.
This is actually our 2nd Kiva loan - we just finished paying off our first loan, in full and 10 months early. That trajectory is reflective of our business growth. The faster we can increase capacity and better serve our customers, the better.
Our future goals center around 2 things - our customers and our community. The better we can serve our customers, the more we can afford to take care of our community. Thanks to our 1st Kiva loan and our greenhouse and hoop houses, we have been harvesting fresh salad greens for 140 weeks straight. Continuously. This is what our customers want and we work tirelessly to make it happen. As our business grows, we are adding monthly farm tours, dozens of gardening and beekeeping workshops, and hiring more local talent.
We are proud to be our town’s first USDA Certified Organic Farm. We are proud to promote good business practices amongst our peers. And we are very proud that we have been able to help energize our community’s burgeoning local food scene.
This loan, in conjunction with other funding, will allow us to increase our greenhouse growing space by 50% (1200 sq. ft.)! It will help us accommodate more farm visitors by tripling our parking area, and improve our receiving area so we can receive truckloads of compost year round, as well as an increasing flow of deliveries by semi. Furthermore, this loan will support an enhanced farmers market presence as we continue to grow to serve our customers.
Estimated expenditures: Greenhouse Expansion (trolley system, benches, fans, labor, etc) - $5000 Parking/Receiving Expansion (7500 sq. ft. gravel lot, labor, landscaping) - $4000 Market Improvements (bigger tent, signage, trailer modifications) - $1000
We expect these investments to increase our business revenue by 25%, with greenhouse revenues almost doubling this season. We continue to see increased demand for our products, with our ability to keep up being our main obstacle. This is a good problem, and a call we plan to answer!
In the last 3 years, our farm has gone from $0 in sales to almost $200,000 on less than 2 acres. We see this greenhouse expansion and increased operational capacity as a way to increase our labor force from a husband/wife team to adding 2 year round employees and another 1-3 seasonal workers. We’ve been growing quickly, but with intention - and we can see the path forward and this loan will help us get there.