BELMONT — On June 17, 2022, Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) announced the award of six matching grants totaling $300,000 to Bahner Farm in Belmont and five other farms across the state upon their completion of MFT’s Farming for Wholesale program, a two year program that offers up to 100 hours of individualized business planning and technical assistance to farmers who are seeking to grow their operations.
The six farms will implement business plans focused on scaling up for wholesale by investing in equipment and infrastructure to streamline their production, improve their ability to sell to wholesale markets, and make their businesses more profitable.
The 2022 grantees are Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham; Bahner Farm in Belmont; Bumbleroot Organic Farm in Windham; Farmer Kev’s Organics in West Gardiner; Ironwood Farm in Albion; and Pumpkin Vine Family Farm in Somerville.
Each farm was awarded $50,000, and will match the grants with $50,000 of their own investments, introducing a total of $100,000 of new funding to grow their businesses. All six farms participated in MFT’s Farming for Wholesale program and worked with business advisors to research and define robust business plans that focused on scaling up for wholesale markets. These grants are competitive and applications undergo an extensive review process by a committee of MFT staff and industry consultants.
Christa and Mike Bahner of Bahner Farm, a diversified vegetable farm in Belmont, completed the Farming for Wholesale program to focus on extending their growing season to increase their wholesale business. As a result, they will invest the grant funds in season-extending infrastructure to capitalize on their new business plan. Bahner Farm also plans to expand their packhouse with additional food safety measures.
This is the sixth year that MFT has offered implementation grants to farmers participating in the Farming for Wholesale program, to help build a network of thriving local farms that can more easily supply fresh local food to Maine consumers. To date, the Farming for Wholesale program has provided a total of $1,125,359 in grants to farmers, resulting in more Maine food on supermarket shelves, at farmers markets, and in restaurants.
“MFT not only challenges you to think critically about your business growth, but it gives you the tools to make sound business decisions,” said Anil Roopchand of Pumpkin Vine Family Farm in Somerville, in a MFT news release. “They helped us learn essential business skills we didn’t even know we needed; they are an invaluable resource for any farm that is seriously considering commercial sustainability.”
Abby Sardauckas of Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham added: “Thanks to the technical assistance provided by Maine Farmland Trust's program, our farm is better equipped because we know our costs of production and have a solid plan of growth that balances with our quality of life goals.”
Learn more about MFT’s Farming for Wholesale program here: https://www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/farm-viability/workshops/
About MFT: Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide, member-powered nonprofit working to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance the future for farming. Since 1999, MFT has helped to keep over 60,000 acres of farmland in farming, and has provided critical business planning, land access, and other services to over 800 farm families. Learn more at mainefarmlandtrust.org