The Vermont Community Loan Fund is excited to announce a new loan fund dedicated to investing in Vermont's healthy foods, sustainable agriculture and natural resources enterprises. VCLF's new Food, Farms & Forests Fund will grow and sustain the capital and technical assistance resources that VCLF makes available to meet the financial and business consulting needs of small farms, food producers, and working landscape entrepreneurs.
"Vermont's local food system and natural resources industries are central to our identity and quality of life. VCLF has always made loans to foster their work. Now, we're committed to doing more. With the launch of the new Food, Farms & Forests Fund, we'll expand our work serving these critical drivers of our state's economy, small communities and public health," said VCLF Executive Director Will Belongia.
"The Food, Farms & Forests Fund represents an opportunity for philanthropists, foundations and other institutions to dedicate their VCLF investment and grant-making dollars directly to creating positive impacts in these areas," he added.
Investors in the Food, Farms & Forests Fund will earn up to a 1% return (fixed) on their investment. FFF Fund investments will have terms no less than five years.
"The number of farms here has risen 5% over the past five years, despite a national overall decline. As a result the market value of Vermont’s agricultural products has risen 15% over the same period. And there’s more to come: there was a 22% increase of farmers in the 25-34 year age bracket over the same period. The number of Vermont food system businesses has increased 15% in the past decade, accounting for 61,000 jobs. Additionally, the state's farmers and food entrepreneurs are credited with contributing to Vermonters' health and wellness through provision of healthier food choices that can reduce rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and more."
In 2015, the first full year of the Food, Farms & Forests Fund operations, we plan to provide $1 million in financing, leading to the creation or preservation of an estimated 100 Vermont jobs. The five-year strategic goals for the Fund include lending $5 million, resulting in the creation or preservation of an estimated 520 Vermont jobs.