Farms in Clay, Laurel, Lincoln, Madison, Wayne, Whitley counties receive $7,500
London, Ky. — Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation today announced the first six recipients to receive loans from the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Small Production Loan Fund, which helps small producers grow healthy, nutritional foods that they can move into commercial production.
“This fund will support and educate growers to develop a strong local food system in Eastern and Southern Kentucky that will result in profits for the growers and nutritional food for families in the region,” said Jerry Rickett, president and CEO of KHIC.
Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation and Grow Appalachia created the low-interest loan fund this summer for small farmers in 54-county SOAR region of Eastern and Southern Kentucky. The fund was established with support from a $200,000 grant through the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy.
The loan fund, which is supported by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, will not only provide favorable loan terms for growers but also use the repayment of the initial loans to sustain the program for other growers.
The six farms to receive the first loans of $7,500 are:
- J & J Farm Produce Market – Founded in 2010 by Julian Turpin as a roadside fruit stand near Somerset, J & J Farm Produce Market & Deli sells Kentucky Proud organic vegetables, fruit and other produce grown by the owner on his 55-acre farm in Lincoln County and by the neighboring Amish community. J & J Farm Produce also supplies produce to local supermarkets in Pulaski County. The SOAR Production Loan provided the J & J Farm Produce financing to purchase coolers and a cargo trailer to transport produce.
- Maggie and Will Bowling – Maggie and Will Bowling grow organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers on their 55-acre farm near Oneida in Clay County. Products are sold in markets in Manchester and Hazard to food services, including Manchester Memorial Hospital, and area restaurants including Thersey’s in Manchester. Produce can be order directly through the Old Homeplace Farm website at www.oldhomeplacefarm.com. In addition, Maggie was previously the Grow Appalachia site coordinator at Pine Mountain Settlement in Bell County. The SOAR Production Loan Fund provided Maggie & Will Bowling a loan to purchase a new 30’x 96’ high tunnel greenhouse to help extend their growing season to 10-months.
- Melanie Gross – Melanie Gross and her husband have been involved with organic farming and Grow Appalachia for several years. With the SOAR Production Farm Loan, the Gross’ will purchase several beehives and bees to expand their honey operation in southern Laurel County and construct a high tunnel greenhouse to extend the growing season for various vegetables.
- John Stanley and Heather Lundy – Moving to the Bybee area of rural Madison County from Nova Scotia in early 2014, John and Heather continued the organic farming efforts they had begun seven years earlier. They’ve started a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and began to sell their products at the Farmer’s Market in Berea. Their 11-acre farm includes 11 2,500 s.f. plots growing a variety of produce, two high tunnels constructed by Grow Appalachia, free-range chickens for eggs and a number of herbs. With the $7,500 working capital loan from the SOAR Production Farm Loan Fund, John and Heather will extend their farm practices that conserve and build soil health, expand their produce operation, add more laying hens and grow their CSA for next year.
- Terry and Mildred Simpson – Lifelong residents of Wayne County, the Simpsons took over operation of the family farm on which Terry grew up in the early 1980s. Included in their diverse farm operations, Terry and Mildred have operated a certified Kentucky Proud roadside market near their home for the past 15-years to sell produce and flowers. The Simpsons have always embraced new technologies allowing them to expand their production and markets. The SOAR Production Farm Loan of $7,500 will be used to purchase a “cool room” to maintain fresher product during the floral and vegetable season and to purchase a mulch film lifter to remove and conserve the plastic mulch film from the ground at the end of each growing season.
- Fox Brothers Farms – Retired teachers Donnie and Daniel Fox have been growing three to four acres of produce in the Canadatown community of rural Whitley County for more than 10 years. The brothers focus on corn, watermelons, beans and tomatoes. Their products are sold through the two Whitley County Farmer’s Markets, at their roadside produce stand and by direct sales. With the SOAR Production Farm Loan of $7,500, Fox Brothers Farms will clear land for added production, purchase additional equipment and fence the area around their gardens to prevent loss from deer and raccoons.