Press Release: CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund provides $183,000 in no-interest loans

May 13, 2020

Philip Korman, CISA Executive Director
office: 413-665-7100, ext. 13
cell: 413-320-8475

John Waite, FCCDC Executive Director
office: 413-774-7204, ext. 102
cell: 413- 522-4458

CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture), in collaboration with the FCCDC (Franklin County Community Development Corporation) and the PVGrows Investment Fund, announced today that its revolving Emergency Farm Fund has made zero-interest loans to 13 farms which have suffered losses due to the spread of COVID-19. The fund will re-open for a second round of applications on June 1st.

“This is the first time that we have opened the Emergency Farm Fund for a non-weather event,” says Philip Korman, CISA’s Executive Director. “And it is the first time in this century that we are experiencing a pandemic that literally affects every single farm. Farms have lost existing markets and need to implement new safety practices. Our aim is to provide support in places where we see gaps in current programs, both public and private. We need to protect our local food supply and keep our local farms farming.”

This round of lending also marks a new partnership between CISA, the FCCDC, and the PVGrows Investment Fund, whose combined resources total $400,000 in loan funds. “This new partnership meant that the Fund could make larger loans available to more farmers,” said John Waite, Executive Director of the FCCDC. “In an unprecedented crisis like this, it’s more important than ever to look for new ways to work together and to leverage all available resources.”

The farms receiving awards represent all three eligible counties (Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire), and they produce a range of products, including vegetables, fruit, flowers, maple syrup, hard cider, and poultry.

Reed Farm is a poultry farm and small-scale poultry processing facility in Sunderland. “We’re still a new business that needs to make investments so we can grow, and one of the things that we planned on buying this summer was a refrigerated truck. That’s a necessary piece of equipment for a poultry business,” says Peter Laznicka, owner of Reed Farm. “We lost the income we were relying on to make that purchase when restaurants and caterers closed this spring, so we’re using our Emergency Farm Fund loan to cover those losses and buy the truck so we can continue to operate this summer.”

Many Graces is a specialty cut-flower farm and floral design studio in Hadley, offering floral design for weddings and other special events, a flower CSA, and bouquets at farmers’ markets and retail stores. “During the first few weeks of the pandemic, we fielded a cascade of rescheduling requests from our 2020 wedding and event clients. We absolutely understood their need to reschedule, and also, our business really relies on those commitments early in our season when our direct sales are limited,” says owner Rebecca Maillet. “For me, coming from a working-class family and being a first-generation farmer, I don’t have immediate access to the emergency capital that I need in a crisis like this. I was able to put staff back on payroll with the loan I received, which has been an invaluable boon to the farm. It’s important to have a bit of security in a moment like this, when everything is so unknown.”

The farms that received loans in this round are: Bardwell Farm, Hatfield; Carr’s Ciderhouse, Hadley; Headwater Cider, Hawley; Joe Czajkowski Farm, Hadley; LaSalle Florists, Whately; Many Graces, Hadley; Maple Corner Farm, Granville; Mycoterra Farm, South Deerfield; North Hadley Sugar Shack, Hadley; Old Friends Farm, Amherst; Phoenix Fruit Farm, Belchertown; Reed Farm, Sunderland; and Sweethaven Farm & Flowers, Ashfield.

The CISA Emergency Farm Fund was launched in 2011 in response to the damage suffered by farms in western Massachusetts due to Hurricane Irene. The Fund is managed by CISA, and loans granted in response to COVID-19 will be administered by CISA and the FCCDC. The Loan Review Committee includes people with a variety of agricultural backgrounds, including farmers, CISA staff and board members, and representatives from the FCCDC, PVGrows Investment Fund, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, and Equity Trust.