A Conversation with Sarah Lopez of Fiesta Farms
At Kiva Zip, we love supporting farmers, who often struggle to gain access to conventional bank loans. This week I took some time to talk with Sarah Lopez, who runs Fiesta Farm with her husband Aurelio. They are now fundraising their second loan on Kiva Zip, which you can check out here.
Kiva Zip: Can you introduce yourselves and Fiesta Farm? What do you grow/raise on Fiesta Farm?
Sarah: We (Aurelio and Sarah Lopez) raise livestock on pasture for meat and eggs, and we're working on plans to add vegetables and fruits to the farm. It is such a joy to see happy animals gobbling up grass and romping around our pastures and woods, and we also love the feeling of feeding other families with our efforts. We sell at farmers markets and through our CSA (community supported agriculture) program, where members partner with our farm by paying for a "share" at the beginning of the year and receiving meat and/or eggs on a regular basis throughout the season.
Kiva Zip: What are the major challenges that you face as small-scale farmers?
Sarah: Our biggest challenges have been needing to start a farm "from scratch," securing land, and developing pasture-based production methods for livestock that are more commonly raised in confinement.
Kiva Zip: As farmers, have you had problems gaining access to capital from traditional financial institutions? Did you try to get a traditional bank loan before turning to Kiva Zip?
Sarah: Our business is generally too young for most banks' lending policies, so we've provided a lot of our own start-up capital, as well as looking to private lenders and groups like Farmlink and Kiva Zip.
Kiva Zip: This is your second Kiva Zip loan, how was your experience with your first Kiva Zip loan? What were some of the positive aspects of your first Kiva Zip experience?
Sarah: Our first Kiva Zip loan helped us out with some much-needed equipment, and put us in touch with a great new pool of lenders/supporters. Receiving and paying off the loan funds was simple and straightforward.
Kiva Zip: How did you use the funds from your first loan?
Sarah: We used those first funds to purchase an ice machine and an automatic chicken scalder. Both of these save us time and money, every week!
Kiva Zip: What made you decide to take a second Kiva Zip loan? How do you plan to use these funds?
Sarah: This second loan seems like an opportunity to further expand our lending network, and there are some additional items that will save us time and money similarly to the items we purchased with our first loan. For this second loan, we're looking to get a livestock trailer (we currently rent the neighbor's when we need one), equipment to improve water delivery to our pasture (should save us at least an hour a day in chores!), and replace some of our laying hens that are getting too old to lay productively.
Kiva Zip: Do you enjoy interacting with the Kiva Zip community through the conversations tab?
Sarah: We love hearing from lenders, whether it's words of encouragement, advice, or even questions. It's also a great place to post updates about farm happenings, pictures, etc.
Kiva Zip: Have any of your lenders become customers?
Sarah: We've certainly had customers become lenders! I believe some of our lenders have become customers too, but I don't think anyone's ever come up to our market stall and said they first heard about us on Kiva.
Kiva Zip: If someone wants to become a Fiesta Farms customer and participate in your CSA, how should they contact you?
Sarah: They can email us at email@example.com, or check out our website at http://fiestafarm.net/.