Viroqua Food Co+op Microlending Initiative
2022 Microlending Applications – Now Available!
The VFC Microlending Committee invites any local farm or business selling food or products at a local farmers market or directly to the VFC to apply for a one-year no-interest loan of up to $3,500. Through the VFC Microlending Initiative, VFC aims to strengthen small, local farmers and producers that are part of our local food system.
The VFC Microlending Initiative Committee (includes VFC Staff and Board of Directors) will review applications in early February 2022 and announce the recipient(s) in the March 2022 Newsletter.
Please reach out to Jennifer McCoy, VFC Marketing & Outreach Manager, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 608.637.7511 (x30).
Types of projects funded by the VFC Microlending Initiative are the ones that:
1. Help fill a hole in local food system by expanding production and/or distribution of products.
2. Purchase equipment to increase efficiency and decrease production costs.
3. Help a local producer grow their business.
Thoreau's Garden is the recipient of the 2021 VFC Microloan for $3,500!
Thoreau's Garden is a full-service greenhouse and retail shop run by students and faculty of Thoreau College. They are located at 520 E. Terhune St. in Viroqua, which they lease from Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School.
Thoreau's Garden has three main goals as a social enterprise of Thoreau College:
- Provide high quality houseplants, bedding plants, flowers, native plants, vegetable starts, salad greens, micro-greens and other beautiful and delicious things to grow for the local community, using organic and biodynamic techniques.
- Provide an educational environment where Thoreau College students can learn about ecology, sustainability, botany, organic and biodynamic agriculture, hard work and entrepreneurship including marketing and business management.
- Generate revenue to support the Thoreau College Scholarship Fund.
With the $3,500 VFC Microloan, Thoreau’s Garden is purchasing a pickup truck, an essential piece of equipment for their business. The pickup truck will be used to transport materials like soils, rocks, containers, etc. as they make deliveries. Thus far, they have been borrowing vehicles from various college staff and faculty, which wasn't sustainable.
Viroqua Food Co+op is excited to support Thoreau's Garden and we invite you to support them as well by purchasing their products from our plants department and our greenhouse later in the season.
Congratulations to Thoreau's Garden and the students and faculty of Thoreau College!
Microfinance: the granting of very small loans. While this is a concept most closely associated with the developing world, tight credit and the recession have increased the demand for smaller loans in the United States, giving microlending a higher profile and broadening its appeal.
Interest-free loans are opposite of the normal cycle all too many farmers find themselves in – the cycle of high interest loans, debt, and the inability to reach financial security and true economic viability through their business. VFC’s intention is to share the resources that we have to better enable farmers to provide us with the food and resources needed to live a healthy life.
Through the VFC Microlending Initiative we hope to strengthen small, local farms and other businesses that are part of our local food system and create opportunities to improve their operations.