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FarmStart celebrates $1 Million Invested in Maine Agricultural Startups

June 22, 2021

Farm Credit’s FarmStart, a unique program that invests working capital in Northeast agriculture, commercial fishing and forest products ventures showing promise of success, recently announced it has invested more than $1 million in beginning Maine agriculture and fishing businesses since 2014.

One of those recent investments was with Abraham Kann, owner of To Heal Earth (THE) Farm in Kittery, Maine. Abraham and his partner, Kate, are beginning farmers focusing on no-till organic vegetable farming. THE Farm grows market garden vegetables like baby greens and lettuce, along with more diverse varieties such as tatsoi, an Asian green variety, and sidhu negi, a Japanese leek.

“Although this is our first year of farming, we had everything planned out,” said Abraham. “We were just missing the startup capital to jumpstart our business.”

Traditional banks wouldn’t lend to Abraham because of his lack of experience and production history. After researching farm loans, he was referred to Kathryn Bisson, a Farm Credit East FarmStart advisor.

“The more we talked to Kathryn, the more it seemed like FarmStart was the best option for someone just starting out,” continued Abraham. “FarmStart and Farm Credit East offer a great support system, and it’s no secret that they’re investing in novice farmers, which made us feel very comfortable.”

“As a FarmStart advisor, I have a greater advisory role with FarmStart customers than with traditional lending relationships,” said Kathryn. “I assist in the preparation of business plans, the tracking and follow-up of management goals and objectives, while also helping to connect customers with other Farm Credit East resources.”

Kathryn added that Farm Credit staff can identify and connect FarmStart entrepreneurs to additional resources, such as Maine’s SCORE program, which provides free assistance to small businesses. “Allyn Lamb from SCORE Maine worked through business planning and cash flow budgeting with Abraham and Kate during the application process,” said Kathryn.

“The FarmStart program is unique in its focus working with young and beginning entrepreneurs to establish successful businesses,” said Samantha Stoddard, Farm Credit East senior loan officer and FarmStart investment manager. “The combination of working capital and the valuable insight provided by FarmStart advisors like Kathryn provides startup businesses with much improved odds of long-term success. Abraham and Kate will benefit greatly from the expertise of FarmStart staff and the flexibility of repayment terms.”

FarmStart, LLP is a joint initiative of Farm Credit East, Yankee Farm Credit and CoBank to fulfill Farm Credit’s long-term commitment to support a vibrant, entrepreneurial northeast agricultural community. The program invests working capital of up to $75,000 to help beginning northeast farm, forest products and commercial fishing businesses and cooperatives become operational. Since its first investment approved in August 2006, FarmStart has invested more than $15 million with over 300 entrepreneurs across the Northeast.

For more information on FarmStart, click here.

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For more information:
Contact: Kristie Matuszewski 
Telephone: 800.562.2235
Email: Kristie.Matuszewski@FarmCreditEast.com