“There is a generation of young people eager to farm, however they do not know where to turn; a good place for your program.”
— Lisa MacDougall of Mighty Food Farm, a 2009 Microloan recipient
The Carrot Project fosters a sustainable, diverse food system by supporting small and midsized farms and farm-related businesses through expanding accessible financing and increasing farm operations’ ability to use it to build successful, ecologically and financially sustainable, businesses.
The Carrot Project partners with farmers, lenders, investors, donors, and farm service providers to (1) create loan programs connected to technical assistance, and (2) strengthen the sector’s knowledge base through research and information sharing. The first is tangible, practical, and immediate; the second is long-range and far-reaching. Together, these approaches inform our vision of a farming system that values small and midsized farms that use ecologically and financially sustainable practices, connect consumers to the food system, and make positive contributions to the larger community.
Our work is premised on the importance of successful small and midsized farms in the U.S. Though access to capital is important to their success, many of these farms have difficulty obtaining loans. The Carrot Project fills in the gaps to help small and midsized Northeast farms access the capital they need.
Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, The Carrot Project was founded by Dorothy Suput in 2005. While living in Switzerland, with a very different agricultural system than she had experienced in her Midwestern U.S. upbringing, Dorothy traveled throughout the country and “acquired a different sensibility about what kind of agriculture could have positive impacts on the environment and on communities. I couldn’t help but notice the relative connection of the farms to their communities. It seemed to me that Switzerland had found a better way of doing agriculture,” she says. Dorothy returned to the U.S. and entered a Master’s program at Tufts University, in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP), where she pursued her interest in policy and advocacy issues, in addition to learning about U.S. agriculture and the non-profit sector. Her experiences in graduate school and subsequent non-profit work led her to wonder about the business side of sustainable agriculture, and whether new, emerging business models could sustain farm families. This interest and the then-limited focus on financing within the sustainable agriculture sector led to the organization’s founding.
An early organizational task was “to recruit a board of advisors that understands the problem, can help craft solutions, and lends weight, credibility, and decades of experience to the effort through their personal backgrounds and vocations,” says Susan McMahon, founding Advisory Board member. The Carrot Project is proud of its accomplishments, beginning with the first loan program in 2009, in building capacity both to provide financing to individual farmers and to increase the knowledge base and conversation in this sector. Our work was most recently recognized in 2010 by the Glynwood Center through its Harvest Wave of the Future Award.
Matthew Burke, Bloomfield Farm, microloan recipient. Photo credit E. Ferry.
The Carrot Project's E-newsletter is sent out 3-4 times per year. If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please send a message with your name, town/city, state, and if you are a farmer to info AT thecarrotproject.org.