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2020 ANNUAL Report THE CARROT PROJECT

NOTE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Our annual report is usually a reflection on the prior year. However, so much has changed that this report includes elements from 2019 and 2020. What we are sure of is that these uncertain times require decisiveness from farmers and food entrepreneurs, and offer tremendous potential for local sustainable agriculture.

While we’ve all been focusing on the pandemic, and rightly so, there are other crises affecting our farm and food system, too. We faced a severe drought this year; climate change is slowly but surely shifting our ecology; and our clients are often working to overcome systemic barriers threatening to limit their potential, as low-income, beginning business owners without generational wealth or inherited access to land.

We are addressing these issues now and in our 2023 strategic plan. We look forward to sharing it with you.

In these troubling times, I continue to be inspired by the amazing entrepreneurs that feed us and steward our land. I wish you the best in the coming year.

Dorothy Suput, Founder and Executive Director

Our vision

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.

OUR PROGRAMS

At our core, we are business advisors, but we also conduct research and impact policy.

We address the most important gaps in business management services and financing that prevent small and midsized farms and food processors from economic viability and expansion. Our work is a combination of on-the-ground 1:1 business technical assistance with clients, and training, research, and policy.

training, research and policy

The Carrot Project is the co-founder and host of The Agricultural Viability Alliance. The Agricultural Viability Alliance network will increase the number and economic viability of farm and food businesses by bringing together providers and organizations from across New England and New York’s Hudson Valley to address shared challenges, facilitate more uniform high-quality coverage, and more effectively share and expand limited resources.

Meet A client: STEVE MURRAY

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

OUR SERVICES

Total clients: 220

OUTCOMES

These outcomes represent clients who completed outcome-based services in 2019.

  • Average increase in net income: $21,365
  • 33 jobs supported
  • 826 acres in production
  • $277,200 loaned to current borrowers

100% of training participants learned at least one new financial management tool, and used it in their business.

OUR CLIENTS

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%.

Based on HUD median household income data, representing a subset of clients for whom we have household income figures.

2019 Financials

Total budget: $425,375

Advisory Board

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

STAFF

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