Print Friendly, PDF & Email

SOIL Sangre de Cristo has awarded two micro-loans as it kicks off its first round of zero-interest farm loans as part of its mission to support local agriculture. On November 12, SOIL Sangre de Cristo, located in south-central Colorado awarded zero-interest farm loans to Rocky Mountain Garlic and Strawn Berry Farms.

Rocky Mountain Garlic owners Mike and Tiffany Collette. Image courtesy of PJ Bergin, SOIL Sangre de Cristo.

Tiffany Collette of Rocky Mountain Garlic said she and her husband Mike plan to use the $5,000 loan to build a low tunnel hoop house, improve their vegetable washstand and expand their refrigeration as well as their storage capacity.

Rocky Mountain Garlic has grown multiple varieties of garlic in Salida since 2017. This year they partnered with another Chaffee County farm to provide other vegetables and herbs including beets, radishes, sorrel, and mint.

Click here to learn more about Rocky Mountain Garlic and look for them the next time you attend the Farmers Market.

Strawn Berry Farm’s greenhouse. PJ Bergin image

Strawn Berry Farm is a micro-farm located in Del Norte that uses organic and regenerative techniques to cultivate specialty crops including sustainable strawberries. The farm is one year old.

Proprietor David Strawn plans to use the $2,000 SOIL loan to build a temperature-controlled “market mobile” retail trailer that can transport fresh produce to markets. Click here to learn more about Strawberry Farms.

SOIL Sangre de Cristo members voted to disburse the funds at their annual membership meeting. The funds are raised from membership contributions.

Local farmers and food producers who are members of SOIL were eligible to apply for the loan and loan application finalists pitched their proposals live at the virtual meeting on November 12. The loans are repayable over three years and as they are repaid, the money rolls back into the available funds for future loans. The next round of applications will be called for in early 2021.

Farmers and food producers can join SOIL with a general membership of $250 per person which includes a vote on the loan distribution. The mission of SOIL is to unite the communities of South Central Colorado through direct support of local farmers, ranchers, and food producers to improve food security and resiliency for all residents.

SOIL’s member-funded, zero-interest lending model is based on the Slow Money Principles developed by author and activist Woody Tasch. In addition to SOIL Sangre de Cristo, SOIL-affiliated groups are creating more resilient food systems in communities around Boulder, Durango, and Carbondale with more than $700,000 in loans for items such as tractors, worker housing, and irrigation.