The Food Bank
CDFI: Vermont National Bank,
Socially Responsible Banking Fund
Loan type: Agriculture loan
Food Bank Farm, located near the town of Northhampton, Massachusetts,
is a Community Supported Agriculture Farm (CSA) which also grows produce
for a local food bank. As a CSA, this farm has about 500 member families
who pre-pay the farms yearly operating budget by purchasing a
share of the seasons harvest. The members commit to supporting
the farm throughout the season, and assume the risks and the rewards
of growing food along with the farmers, Michael Docter and Linda Hildebrand.
This CSA system is a lifesaver for many small farmers in two ways: members
share the impact of bad weather and changes in market prices, and membership
payments provide capital at the beginning of the growing season to buy
the necessary seeds, fertilizers, and other resources. The member families
come to the farm on a weekly basis during the harvest season to collect
their share of the produce.
Food Bank Farm is unusual, even among CSAs, because it donates half
of all the produce it grows to a Food Bank in a nearby community. As
Michael Docter explained, "We feed people who dont have access
to enough food of any kind, much less the high quality organic produce
we grow here."
Five years ago, when the Food Bank Farm was seeking a loan to buy land,
they were told by the local banking institutions that they were just
not bankable. Fortunately, they found out about the Vermont National
Bank, a commercial bank in Brattleboro, Vermont, that has a Socially
Responsible Banking Fund. This fund is separate from the Vermont National
Banks other loan funds. Because it is dedicated to investments
that have a positive community impact, the Socially Responsible Banking
Fund was able to step in and guarantee the loan.
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