Kiva Zip tackled Access to Capital: Introducing our worm farm at Bucher Dairy

In Agriculture, it is said, an individual must move beyond five obstacles to declare and sustain themselves as a Farmer by occupation. This is different than the conversation about sustainable farming, which is about our value system to choose farming practices that meet or exceed customer expectations, or to steward the land in such a way that promotes its health and coexist with the living organisms found there. Values aside, some would say, “sustainable” and “business” are simply rhetorical. After all, you cant have a business if you cant repeat and sustain sales.

The farmer by occupation, in this vein, must remove the following barriers to get started in the trade: lack of capital, land, health insurance, business skills, and farming skills. Any one element missing compromises the foundation that will ensure the farmer’s success beyond a single season.

The New American Farmer knows this. Ask any Beginning Farmer (those entering or farming for 5 years or less) for the nitty-gritty about this matrix of challenges.  When you do,  you will hear the heart of the matter about a farmer’s story. And keep in mind that beyond growing and harvesting, there must be a strategy for processing, storage, sales, and distribution of the commodities sold. It all figures into the story.

The Compost Club is a New American Farmer. Some other day, we’ll tell that complete story. Today, however, we’d like to acknowledge a barrier lifted- Access to Capital. For ten years, we have envisioned a production worm farm to supply our schools and businesses with affordable composting systems. We have had ten years of persistence towards this goal, marked by sketches, calculations, starts and stops, grant proposals rejected, falls and scrapes. And as Nelson Mandela said, “Don’t judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

Today, we stand up. And we give thanks to the 144 people from across the globe who contributed funds to our production worm farm. Thanks to the brilliance of the Kiva Zip Loan program, we raised $5,000 in exactly two weeks. In 2014, we began to farm. By late September 2014, we paid back our loan.

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