This is a guest blog post by Kiva Zip Borrower Alan Haight.
My wife and I farm in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. We've worked with California FarmLink
for the past two years to get financial counseling and to obtain small annual operating loans to cover production costs. Last year, we discussed obtaining a FarmLink capital loan, and FarmLink sponsored us
to obtain that loan from Kiva Zip
Alan and Jo, Owners of Riverhill Farm
While our Kiva Zip loan
was funding, it was an extraordinary experience to communicate with citizen lenders from all over the world over the time that it took to become fully funded. We were really impressed with the process, and we think that it holds great promise as a new initiative to address the needs of small farms across the U.S.
Lettuce being planted and harvested
Sweet potato field just after planting
The strength of the local food movement of the last ten years has done more to address the needs of small, family farms than fifty years of failed State and Federal government efforts. The proliferation of Farmers' Markets across the U.S. and increased patronage of those markets demonstrates consumer support for access to local, healthful food. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has also been an important element that supports many small farms by supplying early season capital to cover the direct costs of production.
These markets are important outlets for small farms. Still, while many family farms are successful in covering the direct costs of production and pay themselves a modest income, few are able to build up a capital reserve that provides for equipment purchases and expansion of production to make their operations more profitable, and access to capital through traditional lending institutions is challenging for many small farms.
Harvesting baby greens
Kiva Zip is a new and extraordinary resource for farmers, and provides a unique opportunity for citizens around the world to support farmers working to provide their communities with healthful, fresh food.
Kiva Zip is actively seeking small farms and food producers that could benefit from their program as Alan and Jo have. If Kiva Zip sounds like it could be a solution for you, too, complete this short survey to be contacted by a member of Kiva Zip. If you have any questions, please send an email to ContactZip@kiva.org.
Author Bio: Alan Haight farms together with his wife, Jo McProud, at Riverhill Farm in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Nevada City, California. Established in 2001, Riverhill Farm grows a diversity of vegetable and fruit crops for local markets, and sells through Farmers' Markets and their local natural foods Co-op, BriarPatch. Riverhill Farm is certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).