Micro Loan Recipients and Projects

You may remember a few months ago when we were promoting our Food and Farm Micro Loan program, inviting individuals to apply for a low-interest, 18-month term loan to use on a project that would help elevate the local food system here in northwest lower Michigan. We’re happy to announce that along with Grain Train Natural Foods Markets, we were able to give out three loans to three individuals. Read more about them and their projects below and keep an eye out for mid-project updates!

FARM MAINTENANCE AND UPGRADES

Marvin Best, of Best Farm in Ellsworth, runs a vegetable and fruit farm and sells brown eggs from his free-range chickens. Marvin grows sweet corn, melons, and red and yellow watermelons. Many people told Marvin that he wouldn’t be able to grow the melons, but he succeeded!

The loan Marvin was granted will be used to purchase organic fertilizer and install drip irrigation, as well as putting a neighbor plot back into tillage, among other things. He also plans to get some repairs done on his tractor. We are happy to be able to help Marvin out with strengthening his own farm, and therefore bringing more locally produced fruits and vegetables (and eggs!) to this region. Good luck, Marvin!

 Bob Struthers, of Grain Train, and Marvin Best, of Best Farm.

Bob Struthers, of Grain Train, and Marvin Best, of Best Farm.

HEATING AND COOLING ON THE FARM

Susan Sharp, of Open Sky Organic Farm in Cross Village, along with her husband Sam, hosts an organic CSA and believes that small farming is a way to “provide wholesome food to our community and connect with people in a real and useful way.”

Sharp plans to use the loan, in addition to some grants Open Sky Organic Farm recently been awarded, to get a hoop house heater installed, as well as some coolbot materials to have a cooler area. Open Sky Organic Farm is a growing business and is in need of some heating and cooling for season extension and cold storage. We’re happy to help Susan and Sam with a financial boost to get these projects wrapped up!

 Jen Schaap, of Crosshatch, and Susan Sharp, of Open Sky Organic Farm.

Jen Schaap, of Crosshatch, and Susan Sharp, of Open Sky Organic Farm.

SEASON EXTENSION AND A TILLER OF ONE’S OWN

Lukas Hamilton runs Grass Lake Organics, a vegetable and fruit farm specializing in heirloom tomatoes—offering over 55 varieties this year! Grass Lake Organics also plans to sell eggs and hops. Hamilton grew up on an organic, bio-dynamic farm and educational center and he’s passionate about growing food.

The micro-loan Hamilton was awarded will help propel Grass Lake Organics into a higher-functioning farm, bringing more heirloom tomatoes and other veggies to our region. Hamilton plans to buy a tiller after years of renting one, and has drawn up plans to build a cold-storage shelter for season extension. We’re glad that the micro-loan could help with these very necessary and business-building expenses.

 Bob Struthers, of Grain Train, and Lukas Hamilton, of Grass Lake Organics, with his family.  

Bob Struthers, of Grain Train, and Lukas Hamilton, of Grass Lake Organics, with his family.  

Best of luck to all the micro loan recipients—we can’t wait to hear how the projects turn out!