Grow a Farmer Loan Client Spotlight: Hare & Tortoise Farm

We’ll call this a fair trade: in exchange for SMIF’s first Grow a Farmer Fund loan, Molly gave us a beet. Molly’s parents, Bill and Ellen, are the owners of Hare & Tortoise Farm near Zumbro Falls. The Grow a Farmer Fund was entirely donor-supported by people who want to see a stronger, more sustainable local food economy in Minnesota. It’s intended to support small-scale farmers like Bill and Ellen (and Molly!).

Bill and Ellen moved to Zumbro Falls from the suburbs of Chicago in 2014. They began farming in the summer of 2015. Bill and Ellen said their neighbors were essential to their growth including Heartbeet Farm, where Bill interned and learned more about farming. "We actually sell through them. They have a large wholesale operation to the Twin Cities. I sell to Heartbeet Farm, and they sell it up there. We also sell to a number of co-ops and restaurants," said Bill.

"This loan is coming at a perfect time to help launch us into a lot of the projects we want to do to make the farm our own." Bill and Ellen used their loan to help them scale-up their operations a bit faster, including installing a waterway to reduce flooding and purchasing a root washer. They are a USDA certified organic vegetable farm.

The Grow a Farmer Fund is a revolving loan fund managed by SMIF that offers lower-interest loans of up to $15,000 to small scale, sustainable farmers in SMIF's 20-county region for inventory, supplies, working capital or machinery/equipment. This program is a partnership between SMIF, Renewing the Countryside and Slow Money Minnesota.

For more information contact Marcia Haley at 507-214-7021 or marciah@smifoundation.org

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