Press Release 4/22/13 – CISA Emergency Farm Fund
CISA Emergency Farm Fund Distributes $30,000 in No-Interest Loans to Farms Damaged in February Blizzard
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), announced today that its Emergency Farm Fund has made loans to three farms damaged by the blizzard of February 8, 2013, totaling $30,000. The fund is now dormant and will reopen in the future when local farms face a similar emergency situation.
Farms receiving the no-interest loans include Mountain View Farm in Easthampton, The Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, and Blossoming Acres in Southwick. All three farms lost greenhouses due to excessive snow and wind from the storm. “Farmers who lost greenhouses that they use for winter or spring growing found themselves in a difficult situation,” says Philip Korman, CISA’s Executive Director. “The intention of these loans is to offer those farmers the option to rebuild or repair immediately to minimize future harvest losses.”
Mountain View Farm, located in Easthampton, sells 1,400 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares each season. Mountain View is a family farm owned and operated by Ben Perrault and Elizabeth Adler. In the blizzard on February 8th, the farm’s main production greenhouse– a structure 34 feet wide by 96 feet long– bowed and collapsed under the weight of the snow,
due to the way the snow drifted on top. The structure cost $16,000 to replace, not including the several thousand dollars’ worth of labor required to demolish and rebuild the greenhouse. The farm also needed to put in new gas lines and repair electrical systems associated with the structure.
“These were expenses not factored into our budget for 2013,” said Elizabeth Adler, one of the two farmers at Mountain View, “so the zero-interest loan from CISA is especially helpful. The application process is designed to be farmer-friendly and fast, and so we had a check in hand just six weeks after the day the storm hit.”
The Emergency Farm Fund was launched in October 2011 by CISA, in partnership with Whole Foods Market and Equity Trust, in response to the damage suffered by farms in western Massachusetts due to Hurricane Irene. The Fund offers zero-interest loans to assist farmers and farm businesses struggling to meet their immediate needs in the aftermath of natural disasters. CISA re-opened the revolving fund to aid Pioneer Valley farms damaged by the blizzard of February 8, 2013.
CISA, an organization whose mission is building connections between farmers and the community, has provided hundreds of farms with technical and marketing assistance over the past twenty years, but lending was a new addition to the services CISA offers. “After Hurricane Irene, we knew we wanted to support farmers going through this challenging time,” says Korman. “And thanks to strong community support during last year’s launch, we were able to re-open the fund for farms impacted by the recent blizzard.”
The creation of the loan fund was catalyzed by a $50,000 matching grant provided by an anonymous donor. Since then business and individual support has been heartfelt and impressive, with gifts from $5 to $20,000 pouring in. Whole Foods Market and The Farm Table at Kringle Candle each contributed $20,000. Other large donors included Farm Credit East, The Beveridge Family Foundation, Easthampton Savings Bank, Smith College, Florence Savings Bank, Deerfield Academy, and numerous individuals.
“We are so pleased that the community stepped up for our farmers, since our farmers make possible the food that sustains our families every day of the year,” said Korman. “The CISA Emergency Farm Fund is becoming an important addition to the safety net provided by state and federal government programs. These small, no-interest, quick turnaround loans are able to help tide the farms over. Unfortunately, the need for this type of assistance becomes more pressing as severe weather events become more common.”
“The Commonwealth is fortunate to have non-profits like CISA linking farms and communities,” said Gregory C. Watson, the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. “CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund plays an important role for farmers impacted by this storm, and it will continue to do so for future unexpected events.”
The CISA Emergency Farm Fund is managed by CISA with the assistance of Equity Trust. The Loan Review Committee includes a team of people with a variety of agricultural backgrounds and includes representatives from CISA staff and board, Whole Foods Market, Equity Trust, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, and farmers. More information about the fund can be found at www.buylocalfood.org.
For extensive press coverage of the Emergency Farm Fund, visit our Press Room.
|CISA is a nationally recognized organization of farmers, community members and advocates working together to strengthen local agriculture by building connections between farmers and the community. Now celebrating our 20th anniversary year, CISA offers assistance to farmers, provides farm shares for low-income seniors and runs the nation’s oldest agricultural “buy local” campaign – “Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown”®. Find out more about our work to double the amount of local food in our diets at www.buylocalfood.org or call 413-665-7100.
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