A local lending club has raised $21,000 to bolster its no-interest, revolving loan fund aimed to help local farmers and small scale food producers in Southwest Colorado and Northern New Mexico finance farm and business improvements.
Sandhya Tillotson of Four Corners Slow Money said the small nonprofit group raised $11,000 by its Sunday deadline to match a $10,000 matching grant from the Slow Money Institute and an anonymous donor.
“It’s really important to meet this goal because so many farmers we talk to don’t have capital for infrastructure improvements or collateral for conventional bank loans,” she said.
The money will be lent to farmers and small-scale food producers with no-interest loans that will be made in February.
Farmers or small food producers can apply for loans on Four Corners Slow Money website and loan applicants can make their own proposals for payback terms, Tillotson said.
Four Corners’ first loan was for $3,000 to Adobe House Farm. The loan helped finance a $40,000 greenhouse that will allow the farm to grow tomatoes in the winter and shoulder seasons.
“We want to help with any infrastructure needs a local farmer or food producer might need like irrigation equipment for farmers,” Tillotson said.
Four Corners Slow Money currently has 40 members, and it will continue to accept new members through February for the current loan cycle. Members pay $250, or $150 for farmers, to join the club. The membership fee funds the loan fund and entitles members to vote on which projects to grant loans.
Also, groups of two to five people can join to become a single member with group members sharing membership fees. Group members will have one vote in determining which loans to fund.
“There’s a lot of local interest in working for a healthier food system and healthier local soils, Tillotson said.
The local chapter is associated with the Slow Money nonprofit group, which has invested $73 million globally with small local farmers and food producers.