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Rehoboth’s Souza Family Farm Receives $15,000 From MassDevelopment / Strolling of the Heifers Loan Program

October 20, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077
Martin Langeveld, Strolling of the Heifers, 802-380-0226
Dorothy Suput, The Carrot Project, 617-666-9637 & 617-910-8499

MassDevelopment and The Carrot Project today announced that the Souza Family Farm in Rehoboth has received $15,000 through the MassDevelopment/Strolling of the Heifers Small Farm Loan Program, the second such loan under this program. The Souza farm is a family-operated business, with John Souza, his wife, and their two teenage children providing the day-to-day labor and farm management. Souza, who has worked in agriculture with his father for about 35 years, plans to use loan proceeds for lower cost working capital covering operating expenses and renovating recently purchased property. The farm produces vegetables, flowers, and apples, and wholesales to a number of companies in Eastern Massachusetts.

“The Commonwealth takes pride in both its family businesses and its local food, and the Souzas show that combining these ingredients is a recipe for more than three decades of success,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Robert L. Culver. “By reducing the farm’s interest expense through this low-cost loan, the Souza Family Farm will save money while expanding production.”

“The Souzas have an amazing amount of energy and enthusiasm for the farm business, are providing an important service to the community, and keeping 20 acres in a heavily developed area farmed and in open space,” said Dorothy Suput, founder and executive director of The Carrot Project.

“We’re pleased to be helping the Souzas, particularly because they are demonstrating innovative approaches to building farm sustainability in Eastern Massachusetts,” said Orly Munzing, Executive Director of Strolling of the Heifers.

The Souza Family Farm covers about 20 acres, 11 of which are farmed, and the farm expanded in 2007 with 14 more acres and a house that needed major remodeling. The Souzas also use four greenhouses and one “high tunnel,” a temporary covered structure to protect plants and extend the growing season.

MassDevelopment, The Carrot Project, and Strolling of the Heifers launched the loan program for small farms in February 2010. in 2009, many Massachusetts farmers had seen crops ruined by heavy rain in June and July and extreme heat in August. The Agency has had success with similar loan products: the Aquaculture Loan Program, launched in 2005 to help the Commonwealth’s aquaculture industry recover from losses due to red tide, and the November 2009 announcement of $100,000 in term working capital loans to Gloucester seafood businesses affected by the City’s boil water order over the summer.

The next application deadline for the program is November 5.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development authority, works with businesses, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2009, MassDevelopment financed or managed 229 projects statewide representing the investment of nearly $1.2 billion in the Massachusetts economy.

Strolling of the Heifers, www.strollingoftheheifers.com, is a non-profit organization based in Brattleboro, Vermont. Working to help save and support family farms by connecting people with the food they eat, Strolling of the Heifers organizes a major parade and festival each year in June. It makes educational grants to farmers and teachers, and raises loan guarantee capital for the Microloan Fund.

The Carrot Project, www.thecarrotproject.org, is a non-profit organization based in Somerville, Massachusetts, dedicated to creating financing solutions for small- and mid-sized farms, limited-resource farms, and those using ecologically sound practices. Its program model is designed to incubate and establish alternative financing programs in combination with business technical assistance. The Carrot Project works collaboratively with private investors, lenders, and farm support organizations to help rebuild a farming system that offers stability to local farmers, provides healthful food for citizens, replenishes the environment, and is good for regional and local economies.

For a prequalification questionnaire, visit www.thecarrotproject.org/farm_financing. For more information, e-mail info@thecarrotproject.org or call 617-666-9637.