State Loan Boosts Farm
October 24, 2010 : Attleboro Sun-Chronicle, by Rick Foster
REHOBOTH – A local family farm is getting help in expanding with a $15,000 loan under a new program linking a private agricultural organization with state agency MassDevelopment.
The Souza Family Farm in Rehoboth is receiving the loan under the MassDevelopment/Strolling of the Heifers Small Farm Loan Program, the second loan of its kind written in the state. The family-owned farm which produces fruits, vegetables and nursery plants, will use the money to reduce interest costs on working capital.
Farm owner John Souza, his wife and two teenage children who work on the farm grow a wide variety of vegetables as well as flowers and apples and wholesale to a number of companies in Massachusetts. The Souzas also operate greenhouses and a “high tunnel” allowing the farm to extend the normal New England growing season.
MassDevelopment and two separate nonprofits, Vermont-based Strolling of the Heifers and the Somerville-based Carrot Project, teamed up to provide the financing. Both Strolling of the Heifers and The Carrot Project are dedicated to saving family farms and promoting small farm agriculture.
John Souza has been in the farm business for more than 30 years, beginning with his father. “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.
“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.
The Souza Family Farm covers about 20 acres, 11 of which are farmed. The farm expanded in 2007, adding 14 acres and a house that needed major remodeling.
MassDevelopment, The Carrot Project, and Strolling of the Heifers launched the loan program for small farms in February 2010. The Agency has had success with similar loan programs benefitting aquaculture and the seafood industry.
The next application deadline for the loan program is Nov. 5.
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