Farmers and food entrepreneurs have a new way to boost their business, thanks to a new community micro loan program.
Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology and Grain Train Natural Foods Market have teamed up to offer low-interest loans for farms and food related businesses in Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, and Otsego counties.
Farmers, agribusinesses, and food business entrepreneurs are invited to apply for this micro loan program aimed at enhancing the food and farming network in the Northwestern Lower Peninsula.
Ideal candidates will propose an idea that would boost a farm or food business and elevate the region’s local food system.
Applicants can apply for loans between $500 and $6,000. Loans will have a 2.5% interest rate with 18-month repayment terms. There is no application fee.
Uses for the loan may include, but are not limited to: essential tools for the farm or food business, materials, land, livestock or infrastructure, certification costs, professional development expenses, value-added product production, marketing and distribution costs, and expenses related to processing and packaging of farm products.
Applicants using sustainable practices are strongly encouraged, but they are not a requirement.
“We at Crosshatch, along with The Grain Train, see a demand for more local food in the community and wanted to help farmers on the ground by getting tools in their hands and increasing their capacity to process or package.” Jen Schaap, Food and Farming Programs Coordinator for Crosshatch, said. “We’re excited to see how these individual ideas will have a wider-reaching positive effect on the region’s local food system.”
Providing a micro loan for area farmers and food business entrepreneurs has the potential to affect change on the whole region.
The easier it is for farmers to do their work, the more local food we’ll see at the market.
Crosshatch and Grain Train hope that this program will continue and grow as the years go on, providing more opportunity to strengthen the local economy and keeping Michigan focused on healthy, sustainable food for all.
The micro loan program kicks off March 1 and the deadline to apply is May 3.
The loans will be distributed in June of 2016 and borrowers will be required to have three meetings with the loan administrators throughout the term to discuss how their project is evolving.