[permaculture] Santa Fe Farmers' Market Institute Extends Micro Loans to New Mexico Farmers with help from Permaculture Credit Union

Wesley Roe and Santa Barbara Permaculture Network lakinroe at silcom.com
Mon Mar 3 10:03:01 EST 2008

For Immediate Release

Contact: Permaculture Credit Union
          Donald Sarich, CEO
          505-954-3479 phone
          866-954-3479 toll free
          505-424-1624 fax
          <mailto:pcu at pcuonline.org>pcu at pcuonline.org e-mail

         Santa Fe Farmers' Market Institute
         Sarah Noss, Executive Director
         505-983-7726 phone
         505-983-8015 fax
         <mailto:sffminstitute at yahoo.com>sffminstitute at yahoo.com e-mail

Santa Fe Farmers' Market Institute Extends Micro Loans to New Mexico Farmers
Santa Fe, NM, February 20, 2008 - The Santa Fe Farmers' Market 
Institute, the fundraising arm of the Santa Fe Farmers' Market, has 
entered into collaboration with the Permaculture Credit Union, a 
national credit union based in Santa Fe, to offer micro loans to 
Farmers' Market members. The organizations envision the program, 
believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, as a practical 
way to support area agricultural producers.

The idea originated with John Strow, a vendor at the Farmers' Market 
and the chair of the Institute's Loan Committee. Fresh News, the 
SFFMI newsletter, carried an article about the proposed program which 
caught the eye of Permaculture Credit Union board member Nora 
Haskins. She and credit union CEO Donald Sarich met with the 
Institute's Executive Director, Sarah Noss, to offer assistance in 
bringing the micro-loan program to fruition, and they agreed to work 
together. Says Sarich, "This partnership embodies the ethics of 
permaculture that our members strive to follow: that is, care of 
Earth, care of people, and the sharing of surplus. We are proud to 
play a small role in this collaboration and hope many more like this 
will follow throughout the country".

In only four months nearly $20,000 was donated to the Institute to 
launch the pilot program. Loans of $250 to $3,000 will be awarded to 
members at a 6% fixed rate. The Institute recently disbursed $16,000 
in micro loans to six local farmers.  The loans will be used: to 
install drip irrigation on a new three acre plot of land; to build 
fencing to expand poultry production to bring more eggs to the Market 
and for grasshopper control; to expand a grain facility and chicken 
coop on another farm; for seasonal labor expenses; to buy seeds and 
equipment; and to rebuild a cold frame/green house that collapsed in 
the snow. As the program's principal grows, the Institute hopes to 
assist farmers in meeting more expensive needs, such as acquiring 
tractors and irrigated land.

"These loans show the potential of the program," Institute Executive 
Director Sarah Noss said.  "The idea is for the loans to help farmers 
expand their businesses, to grow and diversify the offerings at the 
Market, to help put more land in production, and generally to give 
farmers a boost when cash flow is low in the spring and they need to 
invest in their farms."

Applications are reviewed by the Institute's Loan Committee. The PCU 
handles the paperwork when a loan is awarded so the Institute can use 
donated funds for loans instead of for administrative costs. No 
collateral is required in this phase, and no application fees will be 
charged, but borrowers must establish an account with the PCU with a 
minimum balance of $50. Terms and repayment schedules are determined 
case by case.

The Permaculture Credit Union and the Santa Fe Farmers' Market 
Institute hope that their collaboration will serve as an inspiration 
for other communities that seek innovative ways to support the growth 
of their own farmers and their markets. Noss said the Institute is 
seeking additional donations to the micro loan fund for future 
funding cycles.  Contributions can be made to the Santa Fe 
Farmers'  Market Institute, 607 Cerrillos Road, Suite F, Santa Fe, 
NM  87505 or by calling 505-983-7726.

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