Farmers + Food Producers

The Carrot Project works to increase the number of economically viable farm and food businesses. We want your businesses to be here 5, 10, 25, and even 50 years from now.

 

The Carrot Project offers one-on-one business assistance aimed at helping farmers and food business owners achieve greater financial management expertise and confidence in making business decisions that lead to long-term business success. Services may be free or cost-shared depending on location and household income.

Who Do We Serve?

Our work is focused on Southern New England (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut).
Our programs are designed to support:

  • Farmers and fishermen who use sustainable methods and sell some or all of their products locally or regionally;
  • Food entrepreneurs who source their ingredients from these types of farmers and fishermen, and sell some or all of their goods locally or regionally.
  • Our priority is start-up and early-stage farms and agricultural businesses who have low-to-moderate incomes, but we also work with more established businesses.
  • If you live in New England but outside of MA, CT, or RI, we still may be able to help. Please contact Client Services Specialist Jeff Cole.

Ready for help?

To learn more and apply for our business support services, please use the links below.

1-on-1 Coaching and Business Consulting

Loan Programs

Trainings and Workshops

1-on-1 Coaching & Business Consulting

Get Help From a Business Advisor

The Carrot Project offers one-on-one coaching and business consulting aimed at helping farmers and food business owners achieve greater financial management expertise and confidence in making business decisions, which lead to long-term business success. Services may be free or cost-shared depending on location and household income.

1-on-1 Coaching

Your Title Goes Here

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

How will coaching help you?

Coaching only requires that you have a firm idea for producing or using local food.
We offer free, short-term counseling sessions, typically one hour or less. Email Jeff Cole to schedule coaching.

 

Our business consulting service pairs you with a professional farm and or food business consultant who is best suited to support you, based on what you identify as your needs. You will work with our Client Services Coordinator, Jeff Cole, to confirm your needs, and to connect you with a consultant to create a detailed consultation plan and agreement. There are no charges for this step of the process.

 

Consultations can occur over the phone, video call, or at the farm or food enterprise, depending upon location and needs.

What will coaching services include?
  • A simple review of your business plan and/or development plans
  • Talking through new ideas or partially formed plans
  • Help identifying basic financial actions you can take in response to systemic disruptions such as pandemics or climate change
  • Help understanding the terms and conditions of government and/or charitable financial support programs, especially those requiring fast response times as a result of disruptions
  • More extensive coaching may be free or cost-shared, depending on your location and household income. Talk with your Carrot business advisor or coach about how to access more assistance. No advisor or coach? Email Jeff Cole.
To be eligible for our business consulting services, applicants must:
  • Have acquired, own, or lease land, or a location for their business, or are in the process of evaluating ownership or a lease.
  • Be in operation or within one year of opening your business.

Business Consulting

Your Title Goes Here

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

How will business consulting help you?

Professional support can answer questions you have, and free you up to use your time in other ways. Our advisors bring added knowledge and perspective that can provide realistic options you might not have thought of, or have dismissed based on inaccurate information. We also offer training on using QuickBooks, Excel, and other recordkeeping and bookkeeping systems, and support with grant writing, creating reports, statements and other paperwork needed for loans and other forms of capital.

 

Our business consulting service pairs you with a professional farm and or food business consultant who is best suited to support you, based on what you identify as your needs. You will work with our Client Services Coordinator, Jeff Cole, to confirm your needs, and to connect you with a consultant to create a detailed consultation plan and agreement. There are no charges for this step of the process.

 

Consultations can occur over the phone, video call, or at the farm or food enterprise, depending upon location and needs.

What will business consulting services include?
  • Business plan review
  • Creating and analyzing financial statements
  • Cash-flow budgeting
  • Enterprise planning and creating financial projections
  • Assistance in obtaining loans and other capital
  • Setting up financial tracking/management systems such as QuickBooks
  • Training in using your financial tracking system
  • And more

Ready to start? Fill out our request for support form to get going. Email Jeff Cole with any questions.

Loan Programs

Apply for a Loan

The Carrot Project’s loan programs are available for businesses in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

 

Capital or operating loans of $5,000-$50,000 are available to farm, forestry and fishery businesses, and to processing, distribution and storage enterprises that use any type of local agricultural product.

 

Loans are available for businesses that may not be able to obtain financing elsewhere, including startups and farms in the first few years of operation. Those who already have a business plan are ideally suited to apply. We offer guidance on when and how to apply for financing, as well as assistance with loan applications, and connection to lenders that lend up to $250,000.

Your Title Goes Here

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Farm and Food Loan Fund offers loans to farms and food enterprises in Massachusetts. The program focuses on small and midsized farms and food system enterprises using sustainable or organic practices or products. Food enterprises primarily engaged in processing, storage or distribution of local agricultural products are encouraged to apply.

 

A volunteer loan review committee, which includes farmers and agriculture lenders, supports the work of the fund and approves loan guarantees of up to $50,000. In this partnership, The Carrot Project will review applications and provide pre- and post-loan technical assistance. PVGrows may provide additional lending of up to $200,000.

 

This loan fund operates with financial backing from the Massachusetts Society for the Protection of Agriculture and in partnership with PVGrows, a subsidiary of the Franklin County Community Development Corporation.

 

Whom does this program serve?

Farms:
  • Annual gross annual revenues of $499,999 or less.
  • Applicants must be engaged in cultivation of farm, forest or aquatic products or adding value to such products.
  • Farm property must be owned or leased by the applicant(s); leases should be in effect for at least the repayment period of the loan.
Food Enterprises:
  • Must be involved in processing, storage or distribution of agricultural products. Businesses whose primary purpose is to process, add value to, store, or act as distributors for local agricultural products are eligible. For example: agricultural co-ops, co-packers, food hubs, produce delivery companies, cheese makers, butcher shops and farm stands are eligible when distributing or adding value to local products.
  • The sources of the ingredients or materials from which the product is produced are primarily within Massachusetts and/or nearby states, although the points of sale need not be within this region.
  • The business must have less than 50 employees.
  • Agricultural industry support services such as veterinarians, feed & fertilizer stores, general retail outlets, or any business whose product or service is not primarily local & agricultural are not eligible.

Loan Terms

  • Loans from $5,000 to $50,000 are available.
  • The interest rate is approximately 6-7% (subject to change)
  • Flexible loan terms from 1-7 years. There is no penalty for early payment.
  • Funds may be used for operating or capital expenses. If a loan is used for fixed assets, inventory or receivables, the purchased items will be used as collateral to secure the loan.

Application Deadline

Loan paperwork is always due on the first of the month or the next business day if the first falls on a weekend or holiday.

 

Ready to apply?

Your first step is to fill out our Loan Inquiry Form here.

You may submit financials for your loan application in any format, but if you would prefer a template for your financial statements, you may download a free one here.

<<The Carrot Project loan check list>> provides an overview of all the paperwork required to process a loan request. Questions? Contact Jeff Cole

Rhode Island

The Carrot Project provides loans to Rhode Island farm and food businesses in partnership with the PVGrows Investment Fund .

 

The program focuses on small and mid-sized farms and food system enterprises using sustainable or organic practices or products. Food enterprises primarily engaged in processing, storage or distribution of local agricultural products are encouraged to apply.

 

A volunteer loan review committee, which includes farmers and agriculture lenders, provides initial approval of loans which is used by PVGrows in its final determination. In this partnership, The Carrot Project is responsible for managing the application process, providing initial approval, and working with PVGrows for final approval.

 

The Carrot Project also provides pre- and post-loan technical assistance.

 

The PVGrows Investment Fund, Inc. provides financing and technical assistance to farm and food businesses through community investments. Read more about The PVGrows Investment Fund.

 

Whom does this program serve?

Farms:
  • Annual gross annual revenues of $499,999 or less.
  • Applicants must be engaged in cultivation of farm, forest or aquatic products or adding value to such products.
  • Farm property must be owned or leased by the applicant(s); leases should be in effect for at least the repayment period of the loan.
Food Enterprises:
  • Must be involved in processing, storage or distribution of local agricultural products. Businesses whose primary purpose is to process, add value to, store, or act as distributors for local agricultural products are eligible. For example: agricultural co-ops, co-packers, food hubs, produce delivery companies, cheese makers, butcher shops and farm stands are eligible when distributing or adding value to local products.
  • The sources of the ingredients or materials from which the product is produced are primarily within Rhode Island and/or nearby states, although the points of sale need not be within this region.
  • The business must have less than 50 employees.
  • Unfortunately, agricultural industry support services such as veterinarians, feed & fertilizer stores, general retail outlets, and business whose product or service is not primarily local & agricultural are not eligible.

Loan Terms

  • Loans of up to $250,000 are available.
  • The interest rate is approximately 6-7% (subject to change)
  • Flexible loan terms from 1-7 years. There is no penalty for early payment.
  • Funds may be used for operating or capital expenses. If a loan is used for fixed assets, inventory or receivables, the purchased items will be used as collateral to secure the loan.

Application Deadline

Loan paperwork is always due on the first of the month or the next business day if the first falls on a weekend or holiday.

Ready to apply?

Your first step is to fill out our The Carrot Project -PVGrows Partnership Inquiry Form here.

You may submit financials for your loan application in any format, but if you would prefer a template for your financial statements, you may download a free one here.

<<The Carrot Project loan check list>> provides an overview of all the paperwork required to process a loan request. Questions? Contact Jeff Cole

Connecticut

The Carrot Project provides loans to Connecticut farm and food businesses in partnership with the PVGrows Investment Fund.

 

The program focuses on small and midsized farms and food system enterprises using sustainable or organic practices or products. Food enterprises primarily engaged in processing, storage or distribution of local agricultural products are encouraged to apply.

 

A volunteer loan review committee, which includes farmers and agriculture lenders, provides initial approval of loans which is used by PVGrows in its final determination. In this partnership, The Carrot Project is responsible for managing the application process, providing initial approval, and working with PVGrows for final approval. The Carrot Project also provides pre- and post-loan technical assistance.

The PVGrows Investment Fund, Inc. provides financing and technical assistance to farm and food businesses through community investments. Read more about The PVGrows Investment Fund.

Whom does this program serve?

Farms:
  • Annual gross annual revenues of $499,999 or less.
  • Applicants must be engaged in cultivation of farm, forest or aquatic products or adding value to such products.
  • Farm property must be owned or leased by the applicant(s); leases should be in effect for at least the repayment period of the loan.
Food Enterprises:
  • Must be involved in processing, storage or distribution of local agricultural products. Businesses whose primary purpose is to process, add value to, store, or act as distributors for local agricultural products are eligible. For example: agricultural co-ops, co-packers, food hubs, produce delivery companies, cheese makers, butcher shops and farm stands are eligible when distributing or adding value to local products.
  • The sources of the ingredients or materials from which the product is produced are primarily within Connecticut and/or nearby states, although the points of sale need not be within this region.
  • The business must have less than 50 employees.
  • Unfortunately, agricultural industry support services such as veterinarians, feed & fertilizer stores, general retail outlets, and business whose product or service is not primarily local & agricultural are not eligible.

Loan Terms

  • Loans of up to $250,000 are available.
  • The interest rate is approximately 6-7% (subject to change).
  • Flexible loan terms from 1-7 years. There is no penalty for early payment.
  • Funds may be used for operating or capital expenses. If a loan is used for fixed assets, inventory or receivables, the purchased items will be used as collateral to secure the loan.

Application Deadline

Loan paperwork is always due on the first of the month or the next business day if the first falls on a weekend or holiday.

Ready to apply?

Your first step is to fill out our The Carrot Project -PVGrows Partnership Inquiry Form here.

You may submit financials for your loan application in any format, but if you would prefer a template for your financial statements, you may download a free one here.

<<The Carrot Project loan check list>> provides an overview of all the paperwork required to process a loan request. Questions? Contact Jeff Cole

Crowd-Sourced Loans

The Carrot Project is a trustee for the nonprofit Kiva crowdlending platform, enabling qualified farmers and entrepreneurs in MA, CT, and RI to apply for 0% interest loans of up to $15,000. Terms are up to 36 months, and grace periods are available for agricultural businesses.

 

A volunteer loan review committee, which includes farmers and agriculture lenders, provides approval to use KIVA through The Carrot Project.

Whom does this program serve?

Farms:
  • Annual gross annual revenues of $499,999 or less.
  • Applicants must be engaged in cultivation of farm, forest or aquatic products or adding value to such products.
  • Farm property must be owned or leased by the applicant(s); leases should be in effect for at least the repayment period of the loan.
Food Enterprises:
  • Must be involved in processing, storage or distribution of local agricultural products. Businesses whose primary purpose is to process, add value to, store, or act as distributors for local agricultural products are eligible. For example: agricultural co-ops, co-packers, food hubs, produce delivery companies, cheese makers, butcher shops and farm stands are eligible when distributing or adding value to local products.
  • The sources of the ingredients or materials from which the product is produced are primarily within Massachusetts and/or nearby states, although the points of sale need not be within this region.
  • The business must have less than 50 employees.
  • Unfortunately, agricultural industry support services such as veterinarians, feed & fertilizer stores, general retail outlets, and business whose product or service is not primarily local & agricultural are not eligible.
  • Crowdfunding is best suited for farms with a strong social media presence and network of potential lenders. Minimum funding levels from “friends and family” are required before your loan is open to crowdfunding.

Application Deadline

Loan paperwork is always due on the first of the month or the next business day if the first falls on a weekend or holiday.

Ready to apply?

Your first step is to fill out our The Carrot Project -PVGrows Partnership Inquiry Form here.

You may submit financials for your loan application in any format, but if you would prefer a template for your financial statements, you may download a free one here.

<<The Carrot Project loan check list>> provides an overview of all the paperwork required to process a loan request. Questions? Contact Jeff Cole

Trainings

The Carrot Project generally offers trainings in January, February, and March. They are offered online and in person, depending on partner and community needs.

 

We collaborate with other organizations on workshops throughout the year based on partner needs. In New England, workshops are typically held in the farm off-season months from November through March.

 

These programs are usually targeted to local farm and food producers, and generally class size is limited. As a result, particularly for online workshops, priority is given to businesses in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, unless the program is offered through collaboration with an organization outside of our area.

 

Fishermen, aquaculturists, and small processors using local farm and sea ingredients are always welcome and encouraged to attend.

 

We do not want financial inaccessibility to be a barrier for any participant. If they are not free of charge, our trainings and workshops are offered on a sliding scale to increase equity and accessibility, especially for BIPOC farmers and producers.

 

If you are a producer interested in our trainings and have missed it, please contact Jeff Cole. Much of the information can be provided through our business consulting program.

 

If you are an organization interested in bringing any of our trainings or workshops to your community, or in modifying them for your community’s needs, please contact Jeff Cole.

Your Title Goes Here

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

COVID Round II: How do I prepare for 2021?

If there’s one thing that COVID taught you (it’s probably taught you many things), it’s that if you want to be sustainable, you must be nimble and ready to adapt to change.  In times of stress, the key to survival is to quickly evaluate challenges and opportunities, and make smart decisions.

Once you have made your pivots, you can’t assume it will work out as planned. You’ll want to look at how you’re doing throughout the season and decide what change is needed to end the season where you want to be.

In our four-part series, “COVID Round II: How do I prepare for 2021?”, you’ll learn:

  • what information you need,
  • how to get it,
  • and how to use it to plan quickly and evaluate your decisions in the midst of your season.

You will understand common roadblocks and solutions to maintaining the effort during busy times, and have an opportunity to work with your own numbers as part of a cohort group or one-on-one with a professional business advisor.

Making It Happen: Profitability and Success
  • “Can I pay my bills?
  • “Is my price the right price?”
  • “Should I add a new product line?”
  • “Is a capital investment worth it?”

The Making It Happen: Profitability and Success Training series for farmers and food processors will give you the financial management toolbox needed to answer these questions confidently and improve your business decision making and profitability. This interactive course presents four tools — cash flow budgeting, scenario planning, enterprise budgeting, and sensitivity analysis — that “are fundamental and work well together to provide a comprehensive toolbox,” according to a 2018 course participant.

 

The training is intended for producers with at least one year of operating experience and is approved as a USDA Farm Service Agency borrower training in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Participants in these areas receive registration priority.

 

This is material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2018-70027-28588.

 

      

Deepening Roots, Growing Success

Deepening Roots, Growing Success is a business training program for current or aspiring urban farmers and locally-sourced food processing business operators. It covers accounting, financial management strategies, legal issues, and how to access capital. The curriculum provides specialized business assistance designed to equip participants with financial tools and business savvy to create and operate viable businesses.

 

Topics covered include:

  • Legal considerations to starting your own business
  • Entity formation
  • Preparing for financing: What lenders want to know
  • Understanding and using financial statements
  • The role of equity
  • Creating & understanding financial projections
  • Setting up useful financial management systems
  • Practical tools for financial management

Questions?

Jeff Cole

Client Services Specialist
jcole@thecarrotproject.org
617.674.2371, ext. 9

 

Templates

We’ve developed these free templates specifically for small farm financial planning. Use them for general or annual financial planning, to accompany a business plan, or to meet the requirements for financial statements as listed on The Carrot Project’s loan application checklist. The monthly templates are most useful for looking at 12 months of your business in detail, while the yearly templates are most useful for summarizing multiple years.

Borrower’s Financial Glossary (Download .pdf)

Yearly Financial Statements Template (Download .xlsx) 

Monthly Financial Statements Template (Download .xlsx) 

Sample Business Plan and Financial Statements (Download .pdf)

 

Webinars

Short version of the first session of our COVID Round II: “I made it through the first pandemic-pivot. How do I prepare for next year?” 2021 training series.

Short version of the second session of our 2021 training Series: COVID Round II: “I made it through the first pandemic-pivot.  How do I prepare for next year?”

Short version of the third session of our COVID Round II: “I made it through the first pandemic-pivot. How do I prepare for next year?” 2021 training series.

Part I: Financial Mangement Task Checklist organizes tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, and annual sections that can then be easily translated into a work schedule.

Part II: Financial Management Task Details explains the goals, data, and process involved in completing the more complicated managerial tasks listed on the checklist.

What is the difference between cash accounting and accrual accounting? And why does it matter?

Video available courtesy of The Farmer’s Office – Online. For more videos and resources for cultivating a financially sustainable business, visit http://thefarmersoffice.com.

Why is cash flow so important, and how can you learn to manage it effectively?

Videos available courtesy of The Farmer’s Office – Online. For more videos and resources for cultivating a financially sustainable business, visit http://thefarmersoffice.com.

Learn about key farm financial statements and how to make them work for you. Videos available courtesy of The Farmer’s Office – Online. For more videos and resources for cultivating a financially sustainable business, visit http://thefarmersoffice.com.

Income statements, balance sheets, and statements of cash flow–what can they tell you? How can you use them effectively?

Videos available courtesy of The Farmer’s Office – Online. For more videos and resources for cultivating a financially sustainable business, visit http://thefarmersoffice.com.