Back in February 2011, shortly after the fire at our farm that took our barn, and after receiving so many donations from our community to help us get back on our feet, we decided we wanted to eventually pay the donations forward somehow.
With the help of the Center for an Agricultural Economy, the Vermont Farm Fund was created with the intent that the money that was so generously given to us could eventually circulate again to support other Vermont farms.
And then... Irene
When Tropical Storm Irene came through at the end of August 2011, impacting so many Vermont farmers, it was clear that the Vermont Farm Fund could play an important role. Though we were still recovering financially from our fire, we paid forward a large sum of the donations we received into the new fund to enable the VFF to start giving loans to farmers in crisis. Once launched, more donations to the fund came in from individual donors, classrooms of school children, and other non-profits. Within 3 weeks, the Vermont Farm Fund had begun awarding 0% interest loans of $5,000 or $10,000 to farmers who sustained damage from Hurricane Irene. The Vermont Farm Fund Emergency Loan Program gave out over a dozen loans to Vermont farmers in 2011, totaling $125,000!
Business Builder Loans
The second phase of the Vermont Farm Fund, the Business Builder Loan program, was launched in June 2012. This loan program supports farms who are innovating to increase the diversity of local foods available in Vermont. Business Builder loans are exclusively for Vermont farmers, those who own a Vermont food-related business whose primary inputs are Vermont farm products and those who support Vermont farmers. We focus on small and midscale producers that are trying to build their businesses, and larger enterprises that are working on smaller, innovative projects and pilot business ventures.
Why does VFF give loans rather than grants?
Businesses in crisis need fast access to money. Whether it is a grant or a loan with easy terms is less important than how long it takes to get the money, and how burdensome the application process is. Disasters are part of farming. Fires, floods, heavy snows, hailstorms and droughts are not going to go away. We are building the VFF into a loan fund with significant assets so that it can better respond to future events. We can't rely solely on the unending generosity of donors to the fund, so the payback of previous loan recipients is an important element to keeping this money going.
Donate and spread the word!
The needs of farmers across the state is great. If you are able, please make a tax-deductible donation to the Vermont Farm Fund so that Vermont farmers can continue their work of bringing good local food to our tables.
Mail Your Donation:
Vermont Farm Fund
PO Box 1213
Montpelier, VT 05601