How a Kiva Zip Loan Can Help Small Farms

This blog post was written by Sarah Tait of Kiva Zip and Alan Haight of Riverhill Farm.

Kiva Zip is a nonprofit located in San Francisco, California, that offers 0% interest loans up to $5,000 to financially excluded entrepreneurs who lack access to traditional sources of capital. Kiva Zip is actively looking for small farms and food producers that could benefit from their program.

Alan and his wife Jo, owners of Riverhill Farm in Nevada City, California, are one such example of a small farm benefitting from a Kiva Zip loan. They used their Kiva Zip loan to purchase equipment for their farm, including deer fencing, a delivery van, and a tractor tool bar. Alan and Jo were referred to Kiva Zip by California FarmLink, who have partnered with Kiva Zip to refer specific clients they work with.

Having successfully completed the fundraising process, Alan offers his reflection on his Kiva Zip experience and tells us why Kiva Zip fills a need for small farms that are not addressed elsewhere.

My wife and I farm in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. We've worked with California FarmLink for the past two years to get financial counseling and to obtain small annual operating loans to cover production costs. Last year, we discussed obtaining a FarmLink capital loan, and FarmLink sponsored us to obtain that loan from Kiva Zip.

While our Kiva Zip loan was funding, it was an extraordinary experience to communicate with citizen lenders from all over the world over the time that it took to become fully funded. We were really impressed with the process, and we think that it holds great promise as a new initiative to address the needs of small farms across the U.S.

The strength of the local food movement of the last ten years has done more to address the needs of small, family farms than fifty years of failed state and federal government efforts. The proliferation of farmers' markets across the United States and increased patronage of those markets demonstrates consumer support for access to local, healthful food. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has also been an important element that supports many small farms by supplying early season capital to cover the direct costs of production.

These markets are important outlets for small farms. Still, while many family farms are successful in covering the direct costs of production and pay themselves a modest income, few are able to build up a capital reserve that provides for equipment purchases and expansion of production to make their operations more profitable, and access to capital through traditional lending institutions is challenging for many small farms.

Kiva Zip is a new and extraordinary resource for farmers, and provides a unique opportunity for citizens around the world to support farmers working to provide their communities with healthful, fresh food.

If Kiva Zip sounds like it could be a solution for you, please complete this short survey in order to be contacted by a member of Kiva Zip.

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