The Vermont Community Loan Fund (VCLF) launched the Food, Farms & Forests Fund, a new capital resource for Vermont’s farmers, food entrepreneurs and natural resources enterprises, at a ‘kick-off’ event at Shelburne Farms in May.
With support from philanthropists, foundations and other institutions (including “seed” investor Shelburne Farms!), the Food, Farms & Forests Fund provides flexible financing to Vermont’s agriculture-related businesses, a sector which historically has had difficulty obtaining loans from traditional lenders. The Fund also provides a unique opportunity for private investors to put investments of all sizes to work in support of Vermont’s food producers and small farms.
“Food, farms and working landscape businesses are critical drivers of Vermont’s economy. The new Food, Farms & Forests Fund will grow and sustain the capital and technical assistance resources that VCLF makes available to meet the financial and business consulting needs of small farms, food producers, and working landscape entrepreneurs,” explained VCLF Executive Director Will Belongia.
Shelburne Farms has committed to be the Food, Farms & Forests Fund’s first “seed” investor.
“VCLF’s Food, Farms & Forests Fund advances our own mission as an economically viable working landscape institution here in Vermont. We’re glad to have an opportunity to put a portion of our endowment to work supporting this critical work,” said Alec Webb, Shelburne Farms President.
VCLF plans to provide $1 million in financing in the first year of the Food, Farms & Forests Fund’s work, resulting in over 100 Vermont jobs. The five-year strategic goal for the Fund is to lend $5 million, leading to approximately 520 Vermont jobs created or preserved.
Access to flexible growth capital like VCLF’s has been identified as a critical need for Vermont's food, farms and natural resources entrepreneurs by the Vermont Farm-to-Plate Strategic Plan and the Working Lands Enterprise Board.
“For the past twenty years, the Loan Fund has been lending for food, farms and forests. This new fund is both the rebirth and recommitment of VCLF’s energies in addressing the capital hurdles faced by emerging food, farm and forest enterprises,” Belongia added.
The mission of the Vermont Community Loan Fund is to create opportunities that lead to healthy communities and financial stability for all Vermonters. Since our inception we’ve lent over $85 million to small businesses, affordable housing developers and community-based organizations that has created or preserved over 4,800 jobs; built or rehabilitated more than 3,600 affordable homes for Vermont’s families, individuals and seniors; created or preserved quality care for over 3,600 children and their families and supported community organizations providing vital services to hundreds of thousands of Vermonters.