A first-generation farmer;
Emma Jagoz had never considered farming as a career path until becoming pregnant. Anticipating the birth of her first child, she wanted to provide her baby with the healthiest food options possible. In order to save money and accomplish this goal, she began growing her own organic arugula on her apartment balcony.
Emma found the experience so satisfying that she began to grow other vegetables, like tomatoes, peppers and herbs. She quickly expanded from her apartment balcony to an in-ground garden in her parent’s backyard.
As the garden bounties grew, she found herself sharing some of the excess with friends and neighbors. That’s when she found a passion for farming.
Today, Emma owns a 25-acre organic vegetable farm where she operates a year-round CSA program, supplies the local school system and sells to top-end restaurants from Baltimore to Washington, D.C.
The impact of Farm Credit
When looking for a financial partner, Emma found traditional banks disinterested in her plans as a first-time farmer. One evening at a networking event, she met a team member from Horizon Farm Credit. That’s when the conversation began.
“I have used loans through Farm Credit to strategically invest in equipment, and I have no regrets about that,” Emma said. “I'm definitely no longer debt averse. Having some capital runway for the important pieces of infrastructure that I need, it makes my whole business thrive.”
Emma’s partnership with Horizon Farm Credit helped her move from leasing several non-contiguous plots of land to purchasing the 25-acres where she farms and lives.
A farmer on the rise
“I think it's important for farmers to seek out a lender who truly understands their business,” says Kelli Wilson, a Horizon Farm Credit loan officer. “Farm Credit is there to administer credit and to be in a partnership through the good times and through the challenging times.”
Horizon Farm Credit also offers programs like the Farmers on the Rise program, which focuses on educating the next generation of farmers. And unsurprisingly to anyone that knows Emma, she received a $10,000 Farmers on the Rise award in 2021, enabling her to purchase a needed piece of equipment.
A passion for global social justice
Through Moon Valley Farm, Emma has transformed her desire to work toward global social justice through local action.
She believes feeding her community with healthy food will help dramatically decrease carbon emissions and improve our farmland.
“I really care about the problems that the world has, and I really want to be a part of the solution,” she said. “The more you're able to support local produce, that's going to be how our region actually thrives in a time of climate change, and not just survives.”