Matt Lowe and Julie Henniger own and operate Good Keeper Farm, where they offer a year-round, full-diet, free-choice Customer Supported Agriculture (CSA).
Matt and Julie raise certified organic vegetables, as well as pastured meat and eggs. They also collaborate with three other local food producers to provide raw milk, fruit and homemade bread to their CSA members. Many of the vegetables they produce are intended to be for winter storage, a practice from which they derived their business name, as vegetable varieties suited to storage are called "good keepers."
In the beginning…
After graduating from Messiah College, Julie served with Americorps as a case worker in Waco, TX. In college and in Texas, she nurtured her interest in agriculture, volunteering at various farms before returning, unintentionally, to her hometown of Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania and managing Earth Spring Farm.
Matt worked in the live theater industry in San Francisco for several years after graduating from Haverford College. A friend's study of nutrition and land use piqued his interest in agriculture. This quickly led him to working in agriculture full-time. “After I first started learning about agriculture it just took everything over,” Matt said. He moved back east, spending seasons working at various local farms, including Earth Spring Farm, where he met Julie and they made plans for Good Keeper Farm.
Today, Matt and Julie are also the proud parents of two sons, Leon and Quinn, who were born in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
A unique business model
As a year-round, full-diet, free-choice CSA, Good Keeper Farm is structured differently than most. Their customers are members who buy into a 9-month program. They pay a flat fee and can pick up as much food from the farm as their family will eat each week. Matt and Julie sometimes limit the amount of particular products their CSA members can take home in a week, but most of the time, they trust their members to take what they need.
“It's all included. We don't make boxes and we rarely set limits on what people can take, so it's infinitely customizable,” Matt said.
Support from Farm Credit
As Matt and Julie made plans for starting their business, they knew they were going to need a to partner with a lender for support. That’s when they learned about AgChoice Farm Credit.
“With the help of AgChoice Farm Credit, we were able to move forward with a lot of big projects as we saw the potential of growth,” Julie said. “AgChoice worked very quickly to get us everything we needed.”
A relationship built on trust
As a cooperative, AgChoice Farm Credit’s mission aligns well with Matt and Julie’s values. As a cooperative, AgChoice can only do two things with their profits: retain them for financial strength or pay them back to their customers-owners by way of dividends. “Something I appreciate about AgChoice is the cooperative structure,” Matt said. “It's really nice to know that the profit motive is not really in the equation,” Matt said.
Partnering with a lender they can trust frees up Julie and Matt to do what they love. “It's exciting to be able to take a deep breath and just focus on what we're good at, which is growing food,” Julie said.