The Food Bank Farm
Hadley, Massachusetts
CDFI: Vermont National Bank,
Socially Responsible Banking Fund
Loan type: Agriculture loan

The 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 farm’s yearly operating budget by purchasing a share of the season’s 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.

The 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 don’t 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 Bank’s 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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