Our vision is to significantly increase the number of successful farm and agriculture businesses, resulting in a meaningful increase in local production of food in New England and the Hudson Valley
We want the farms and businesses that we work with today to be here in 5, 10, and 15 years from now. Their success is the cornerstone of a strong local farm and food economy.
Meet Steve Murray.
Steve operates Heart Beats Farm in Berkley, MA. Heart Beats is a 35-acre diversified vegetable farm in Southeastern MA. While the bucolic town of Berkley offers devoted customers, it’s hard for Steve to find farmworkers, because a fair farm wage doesn’t cover the cost of housing in the area. Instead, he relies on mechanization and one skilled long-time worker; mostly, he says, “I just try to go really fast”.
In 2017, Heart Beets Farm received technical assistance from The Carrot Project to review their business plan and put together a loan application as part of a match for a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. Steve used the loan to purchase equipment needed to increase soil fertility and production efficiency.
When using a properly sized tractor and appropriate implements, Steve was able to set up beds properly, transplant more efficiently, manage weeds more effectively, and harvest faster, all leading to increased health and nutrition of the soil, plants, and vegetables at Heart Beets Farm.
After tracking his numbers carefully for years, Steve knows exactly which parts of his farm were most profitable. When demand for safe and local food exploded this spring, he was able to pivot rapidly, and change how and where he sold his produce.
Due to safety concerns, Steve and his wife Sarah, who handles marketing, dropped their farmers’ market and closed their farm stand. Instead, they almost doubled the number of farm shares offered from 120 to 210 — and sold out. They encouraged new shareholders to start with “petite” shares to ease them into the nuances and abundance of local food.
Photos of Steve Murray by Alex Fitzsimmons, 2020
We work directly with:
- Farmers who use sustainable farming methods
- Food and agriculture businesses who source and//or serve their products locally
- 44% of our clients are starting new businesses
Our programs are designed to serve our clients, of whom most — 89% — are farm and food business owners who are just getting started and earn low-to-moderate incomes, and 5% are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). While still a very small percentage of our client base, this is notable, as BIPOC farm ownership in New England as a whole is near 0%.
Fred Ames | Ames Memorial Hall
Jess Brooks | Sunwealth
Scott Budde | Maine Harvest Credit Project
Patty Devaney | The Sustainability Group
Patty Duffy | Maine Harvest Credit Project
Jennifer Hashley | New Entry Sustainable Farming Project
Wendy Holding | Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge
Jon Jaffe | Farm Credit East
John Moukad | In-Context Consulting
Dorothy Suput | Founder and Executive Director
Jeff Cole | Client Services Specialist
Johanna de Graffenreid | Agricultural Viability Alliance Coordinator
Genevieve Goldleaf | Development and Communications Coordinator
Julia Shanks | Senior Business Advisor
Megan Galeucia | Western Outreach Coordinator
Erica Reisman | Eastern Outreach Coordinator
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