With an increasing population and a declining amount of arable land, some farmers are adapting to new and creative agricultural methods for food production.
Two such farmers are Jake Isham and Greg Kell, who co-founded Ceres Greens, a hydroponic, indoor, vertical farm where they grow greens and herbs.
Crops are grown in water on at Ceres Greens, which eliminates the need for soil. Pesticides also become obsolete because pests are not an issue for a crop grown in such a controlled environment. “There is no washing of the crop once it’s been harvested. You can take it right out of the bag and put it on the plate,” Jake said.
Growing indoors also eliminates the limitation of the seasons and the possibility of unpredictable weather events. This allows Jake and Greg to harvest 14-17 times per year, an impressive number given their location in snowy Vermont. “Even if you were growing in a greenhouse here in this climate, you would have at best maybe 4 or 5 harvests in that same year,” Greg said.
Farm Start Program
When they were just getting started, Jake and Greg took their plans to the Farm Service Agency in search for a micro-loan. However, their business was still too underdeveloped to be eligible for the program. That’s when Jake and Greg learned about Yankee Farm Credit’s Farm Start program, which was a great fit for them.
Farm Start is a venture capital fund that invests up to $75,000 per business. “We’re looking for the entrepreneurial spirit, a good business plan and the drive to succeed,” said Chris Bessette, Senior Vice President of Lending at Yankee Farm Credit.
Greg and Jake have been thankful to work with Farm Credit as they’ve gotten their business off the ground. Greg said, “Neither Jake nor I were farmers in the past, but Yankee Farm Credit was willing to take the risk and it was very helpful for us in getting started.”