Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation Provides Loan to Squash Blossom Farm

ORONOCO – Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently approved funding from its Small Enterprise Loan Fund to Squash Blossom Farm in Olmsted County to expand their operations.

Squash Blossom Farm is a 10-acre farm that not only offers an array of local foods – wood-fired pizzas, artisanal sourdough breads, pastries, vegetables, herbs, honey, poultry and eggs – but highlights local artists. Owners Susan Waughtal and Roger Nelson bought the farm in 2008, fulfilling a 25-year dream: “Since we were friends in high school, Rog and I dreamed of creating a place that produced wholesome, homegrown food and also celebrated local art, music and community,” said Susan.

Squash Blossom Farm currently sells wood-fired breads and pastries at the Rochester Downtown Farmers Market, offers a CSA, has a farm store and art gallery, and hosts a series of events, such as live music on summer weekends, classes and the occasional wedding. However, to meet a growing demand for their products and to remain sustainable, Susan and Roger saw the need to expand. A 2015 USDA report corroborates the increased demand for local food, stating the number of farmers’ markets operating in 2014 increased 180% since 2006. This reflects a growing consumer desire for more locally produced food.

However, with the heightened growth in farmers’ markets comes increased competition and the need for small farms to diversify their marketing channels beyond direct-to-consumer sales to more intermediated channels such as restaurants and stores. SMIF’s loan will help Squash Blossom Farm complete their commercial kitchen, enabling them to sell their bread wholesale to local restaurants and co-ops, further diversifying their business operations.

SMIF realizes the benefits investing in these small farm operations brings to southeastern Minnesota. “Supporting community-minded farms like Squash Blossom helps money recirculate within our communities, brings health benefits through increased availability of produce, increases regional food security, and reduces harmful environmental impacts,” said SMIF President Tim Penny.

For more information, visit the Squash Blossom Farm website at www.squashblossomfarm.org or call 507-252-9639.

SMIF provides a range of finance and management assistance services to start and grow businesses. To learn more, call Marcia Haley at 507-455-3215, or visit www.smifoundation.org. SMIF is an equal opportunity lender. This loan was funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

See the full USDA Report here: http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1763057/ap068.pdf

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