Foundation / Corporation
Community Food Co-op - Farm Fund
Grants of up to $5,000 and loans of up to $12,000 to Washington food and farm producers and processors in eligible regions to enhance business productivity in the face of wholesale market expansion. Funding is intended to enhance the availability and quality of products, to increase production, and to ensure the success of local farmers who have recently purchased land or who are making a significant business expansion. Requests will be accepted from Whatcom and Skagit County applicants for projects benefiting Whatcom County.
The Farm Fund is accepting proposals for Next Step Grants of $1,250 to $5,000, in combination with low interest loans up to $12,000. Loans are secured by the Co-op and offered through the Industrial Credit Union (ICU). The purpose of the Next Step Project is to help qualifying farmers and food businesses successfully overcome the challenges of expansion for wholesale markets.
The Farm Fund works to strengthen the market for organic and sustainable agriculture in Whatcom County, encourage ecological and socially responsible farmland stewardship, support resilient, successful farms, and to increase access to healthy food grown, raised or processed by local producers.
Skagit County-based applications must supply Whatcom County as part of their project.
Specifically, the goals are to:
Applicants have two options to match Next Step Grants with capital investment.
The goals of the Secured Loan are; to stabilize or expand the local farming and food processing economy; to increase the amount of locally, organically and sustainably produced products available for sale; to increase access to capital for local farmers; and to provide a low interest pathway for farms to build credit.
Loan funds may be used for purchase of machinery, equipment, farm supplies (plant materials, animals, feed, etc.), labor or other resources necessary for increasing productivity, or for on-farm construction.
Funding of a loan does not guarantee or imply that the Co-op will purchase or sell any product or service from the borrower.
Applicants must have a business plan or existing farm or production operation with a demonstrated business history. The Farm Fund prioritizes projects that focus on some or all of the following areas:
GrantWatch ID#: 187478
Next Step accepts proposals for grants of $1,250 to $5,000. The Next Step grant-to-loan ratio is 1 - 4. A
minimum grant amount of $1,250 corresponds to a $5,000 loan. The maximum grant amount is $5,000, corresponding to a loan of $20,000+.
- Applicants may apply for a minimum of $500 up to $12,000, secured at a 3% interest rate.
- Larger loans are available directly through ICU’s SEED Loan Program at a higher interest rate or a combination of the Farm Fund secured loan interest rate and ICU’s loan program.
- Farmers and farm-supported producers may carry more than one loan if they are in good standing on their payment and the total of all their outstanding secured loans isn't more than $12,000.
- The Next Step Project pairs grant funding with loans or other investments to increase the amount, quality, and availability of local food produced and available to serve the Whatcom County wholesale market within 12 to 18 months.
- Applications must be project specific and must be initiated within 12 months of approval.
- ICU may offer interest-only loans for up to one year, depending on available funding.
Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.
Send your completed Farm Fund application to:
Community Food Co-op
405 E Holly St.
Bellingham, WA 98225
Attn: Jean Rogers/Farm Fund
Send your completed ICU application to:
Industrial Credit Union
PO Box 1767 Bellingham
For questions contact:
Farm Fund Administrator
360-734-8158, ext. 311.
Resources for assistance with filling out the loan application
Industrial Credit Union:
Phone: (360) 734-2043 (ask for Diane Neyens)
FAX: (360) 647-6615
Northwest Agriculture Business Center:
Alex Perez, Project Manager
Jeff Voltz, Project Manager
USA: Washington: Whatcom and Skagit County