I saw a previous thread that hinted about funding, but there wasn't any answers to the question.
Now with the new farm bill, I thought some might have an answer to funding problems for begining women farmers. Or even farmer of any gender...
I really need some assistance in getting our farm vacation program off the ground. I have gotten a lot of wonderful responses from folks visiting this website, but I just have ran into a wall with a lack of funding for all the improvements required to meet government rules and regulations.
I am between two college towns and hoped there'd be a good customer base here for organic produce and family cabins. I just don't want to invest alot of funds into this and it go bust. I need to find more funding to keep us running until we have a couple years under our belts until we get established.
With the economy the way it is now, I am a little worried that things might get so bad that there would not be very many guest. But then again people need to eat so maybe we can go with that for awhile. Build up the produce market first and gradually build the family cabins.
We have such a beautiful area that I want all to share in the enjoy of seeing the sites we take for granted everyday. I am so thankful God put me out here in the country and I feel so sorry for those who have just a little lot to raise their children on.
Even state parks are getting really crowded and hard to enjoy.
I have gotten such great responses from my other questions on here, I know there will be someone with all the answers.
Thanks in advance for you all your support here on Local Harvest! There are some wonderful caring folks on here.
I definately DON'T have all the answers, but I would offer one piece of advise ; Have a contingency plan for your finances for the first 5 years. Going bust is a heavy fear to bear, but it can be managed if you have a plan to work within the constraints of your operation. Growing your business slowly one step at a time will always allow you to move forward and limit the impact of any negatives that arise.I don't understand why you are having problems finding a low-interest start-up business loan geared towards minorites and women.....? If you are looking for grant monies to do it, that's a whole nother story.One definate plus you mentioned were the universeties, exploit those to the fullest. You are talking "disposable" cash, and that's where a great deal of it's located. You also might look into them having a role in your operation on some teaching level in exchange for their financial imput.
From what I have heard, you should look for a realiable consulant to help. Often someone at the county Extension office has a friend of a friend, who is up to date on the grants. Many times the filing for these funds is a nightmare, but well worth the work, when the funds are received.
I have worked with Bill Wolf several times, and would reccemend his services, he could walk you thru the feasablity studys and the grant application.
Bills web site is www.organicspecialists.com
Thanks for the posts. Just like I thought....good advice is just a click away on this forum.
Thanks!!! I'll be using your advice.
I applied once for a loan at the FSA and it was clearly a "good ole boys" system. I got no where. The guy in charge referred to his secretaries as " the girls" and he didn't even go through the proper channels/steps that he was to use. He just claimed I was requesting for funding for items not covered in their programs. I didn't buy it.
I think this next application, I will request that someone else view it.
Thanks for your help folks!
I agree with Moorehaven to grow your business slowly, and I might add you want to grow it in a sustainable way. Debt is the killer pf dreams. It takes time to build a customer base. Don't get in a hurry, be patient, plan wisely, and don't get over-extended.
I have found programs on the USDA website for funding, but when I tried to contact them for the forms, I got a "failure to deliver" notice. How convenient for them. If no one can contact them then they don't have to do any work!
There is some grants on the Grants.gov site as well and I am going to check into them.
If anyone has used these services, please let me know how bad it was...or good. Lots of red tape??? Record keeping???
I want funding but I don't want to loose control of what we want to do on our farm. I have seen farmers who end up working for Farm Credit companies like they are employees without the benefits.
I think I will take it slow and try to do a little at a time. I don't want to get in debt, but I have found that the USDA offers 2-4% interest loans. That's a better rate than what I have now so why not jump on it.
I look forward to hearing from folks who have gone down this road.
There is a Grantwriting Assistance program for women and minorities. It is not likely to help with start up costs or expansion. Grants are available for research and value added projects might be considered. To get the best answer, contact Margaret Krome, she is the director of the program. 608-238-1440
There are USDA grants available for minority farmers, women included. There are low-interest loans available though Whole Foods to local growers. You could try private Foundation grant programs. If your extension agency can't help you, contact your land-grant university directly, you might be able to find an instructor that has a particular expertise of which your extension agency is not aware. Approach the universities which you mentioned to do a project together, you may be able to stretch your resources if you can get other things, (like free labor). Think of projects that could benefit your farm, but teach a lesson to the participants so that you can get participation of other entities. (Maybe an architecture class needs to design a project, you offer your farm as a template, and the class installs a water feature at your farm with the help of an elementary class. The same kids want to come to your farm to get their fall pumpkin, so you mention the pumpkin patch in the spring and send a flyer in the fall to remind the school that they can come back. ) I have heard of some really inovative way to get things done. It sounds like you may be situated in a place where you could benefit from the enthusiasm of youth!
There is funding for Beginning Farm Loans - but it is a 2 year or more process and it is tedious, but it can get you started. You'll need to get with your local Farm Service Agency, and start there - they will assist you with getting started.
I would be prepared to have your farm plan in hand - when you go see them.
Good LuckDesiree, Silex, MO
We are a woman owned farm. We do all the work and have enough equity to apply for loans and or grants. If you are new to the area you are living in then I suggest you take it very slow, try different things and develop a feasible plan. There were so many surprises and even today, two years later we are closer to the final stages to actually grow for a living, however there is still so much to consider and depend on.
Here are a few ideas to help you implement and you are welcome to email us to ask questions.
Buying our farm was such a leap of faith. A dream we all harbored for most of our lives. The reality sinks in and its tough, yet with the right frame of mind, going slow, very rewarding. I can't tell you how many times we broke down in tears. Spiritually you must be prepared for the journey. We didn't have a background in farming or growing up on farms. So you take a few professionals use to working desk jobs all pursing a dream. lol- anyhow, in rural areas its tougher to get a job and the reality is, at least IMO, you can't jump right into farming and make a living at it. At the same time we need revenue that allowed us to also afford the time to spend at the farm.
If you live within 30 minutes of a metro area you can open a dog boarding business. At first we had room off the house, fenced areas and even my house, all used for dogs. I LOVE animals, especially dogs so it was easy for me. After a year I had to invest money to expand and this year we're expanding some more. People don't like keeping their dogs in cold kennels & our place offers a home/farm environment. We learned a lot along the way & I'm actually writing an ebook about it because I would love to see more animal boarding businesses like this. It takes time feeding, cleaning, walking, etc. but they love playing with each other and I still have enough time to work on my farming.
We then added farm sitting with is slowing ramping up but still an nice addition. We can only handle farms in a 50 mile radius & with gas prices our rates are pretty high. We are qualified in every area of animal care, have our own goats, horses and pigs. Most people that have farms or a lot of animals can't ever get away and its a lot to ask a friend to do all that. So its worth the 50.00 a day (plus travel time and gas) to someone that needs a daily farm call, knowing everything is going to be ok. We go in and feed all the animals, check water, water plants if needed, whatever needs to be done.
I highly recommend that you provide some services and slowing get your farming plan in order. For instance we decided that the best course for us was going to be raised beds and drip irrigation. Its going to cost more setup (which we are slowing doing) but everything grows faster, stronger and more healthy. In the long run it saves us more time. We are even working on test that enables us to grow 10 months out of the year. We refuse to be starving farmers. I mean our interest in farming is not just to make money. We are committed to solutions that aid people and the environment, however we also don't want to have to worry about paying the bills.
I can't handle the whole process of grants and working my butt off to get a few thousand. Thats just me. I'd rather find a way to pay as I go, start slow and let it build. I learn so much along the way and I do it at my own pace.
Thanks for your input.
You have given me some good ideas.
I love animals myself and the dog sitting/farm sitting things is a great idea!
Our area was recently declared a state of emergency because of the flooding here in Owen County, IN. The FEMA inspector informed me that there are funds for farmers with the FSA and SBA right now to help us out.
There are also programs with the FSA for funding of farms ran by women. I am going to look into to those as well.
Rural Development has loans with only 1% interest rates that might help with refiancing our mortgage and getting funds to build a handicap accessible house that we need for my husband.
I keep finding references to Grants.gov to apply to grants available with the USDA stuff.
So if anyone is looking for funding to make ends meet during these hard times these sights might help.
Thanks to all who have helped us in our venture.
I just looked at your website. Very impressive.
I too am a woman trying to farm first time in my life. Thanks for ideas.
When i asked for more info, i was told that I had to have records proving that i had managed a farm for three years before I could be considered (as a socially disadvantaged female) HA!
I will go to farming