Growing vegetables and community

Ben Abell of Rootbound Farm

A few decades ago, many small US farms were going out of business and being consolidated into large agri-businesses that grow only a few commodity crops. Today, a new generation of young farmers is working to revive small farms and provide fresh fruits and vegetables to their local communities. For many of these young farmers, working the land represents a way to combine ecological sustainability, community, and honest hard work.

One such farmer is Kiva Zip borrower Ben Abell, who runs Rootbound Farm in Prospect, KY with his wife Bree.
“I love the lifestyle of farming,” says Abell, “working the land and feeding people healthy produce. I love being an entrepreneur and the challenges of building a small business. It is exciting to be part of a community of beginning farmers, in Kentucky and beyond, working to make our businesses succeed and have an impact on the land and on our communities.”

At Kiva Zip, we love supporting farmers like Ben, who have incredible vision, energy and enthusiasm, but often lack the capital necessary to fully realize their dreams. According to Ben,

“There are almost no banks that will give any type of loans (operating, equipment, land purchase) to farmers. There are ag-specific lenders but their lending model is geared heavily towards conventional commodity production and they are wary of smaller, diversified farms supplying the emerging ‘local food’ market.”

At Kiva Zip, we are working with our nationwide network of Trustees to reach out to farmers like Ben and help expand their access to capital. Ben is now fundraising a $10,000 loan thanks to his Trustee, Seed Capital Kentucky, which reached out to introduce him to Kiva Zip.

“I was asked to consider trying a Kiva Zip loan by [Seed Capital Kentucky]. I was very interested in the opportunity. Not only does the Kiva Zip loan offer us the ability to grow our business, but it allows us to build community at the same time.”

The opportunity to build community lies at the heart of both Kiva Zip and the local food movement, which is part of the reason that Kiva Zip and farmers work so well together. When I asked Ben what his favorite aspect of crowdfunding a loan was, he told me it was watching how people from his local community and around the world have stepped up to support him and his wife Bree.

If you would like to support Ben, you can visit his loan page here. If you’d like to learn more about Rootbound Farm, feel free to email Ben at: ben@rootboundfarm.com. If you live in Kentucky, you can find Ben’s veggies at a number of restaurants in Louisville and Lexington, in produce boxes from GreenBEAN Delivery, and every Saturday at the St. Matthew's Farmer's Market in Louisville, KY.

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Posted by Jesse Bisignano, Kiva Zip Intern

May 5, 2014

Jesse is an intern on the US Kiva Zip team and an enthusiastic supporter of small-scale farmers.

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