SOIL Sangre de Cristo members award zero-interest loans to Valley ranchers
SAN LUIS VALLEY — SOIL Sangre de Cristo membership awarded its second round of zero-interest farm/ranch loans Badger Creek Ranch and Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy on March 14. To date, SOIL Sangre de Cristo has awarded $20,000 in its first year.
Dave and Chrissy McFarren, and Andrea Evers, the owners of Badger Creek Ranch, purchased the ranch in 2015. Their goals are to practice regenerative agriculture and to raise livestock humanely and organically. The ranch was over grazed in previous years. The goal now is to restore the pastures through managed grazing on the land.
The McFarrens will use the $5,000 loan to purchase a small, used, tractor for a new farm garden project hauling compost and spreading. It will also be used for dragging the pastures and doing “the heavy lifting” to save on manual labor. The garden will be farmed using the regenerative farming methods using no tilling or plowing.
Badger Creek Ranch sells its products at the Salida Winter and Summer Markets and through their online store. www.badgercreekranch.com
Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy was founded in 2002 by Dawn Jump as a farmstead goat cheese creamery with three does and one buck. By 2014, it had grown to a herd of over 200 milling does, producing 35,000 pounds of cheese a year. Today, Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy has partnerships with two Amish dairies providing quality produced milk from humanely raised animals. They have shifted the focus to sustain and grow the artisan creamery with the same quality Colorado milk supply and farming methods intact.
Loan funds will be used in conjunction with other funds to add an additional 320 sq.ft. to the south facing side of the existing store. Specifically, they will be used to finish the interior of the prefab building and retail fixtures such as shelving and coolers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus of in-house dining declined, shifting to the retail market. This market will continue to increase through 2021 and beyond. Expanding the retail area of the store will assist in this growth.
SOIL Sangre de Cristo members voted at the membership meeting to disburse the funds, which are raised from membership contributions. Local farmers and food producers who are members of SOIL are eligible to apply for the no-interest loans. Loan-application finalists pitched their proposals live at the virtual March 14 meeting. The loans are repayable over three years and as they’re repaid the money will roll back into the available funds for future loans.
Farmers and food producers can join SOIL for $25 annually. General memberships start at $250 per person and include a vote on loan distributions. The loan fund is generously supported by The Mighty Arrow Family Foundation with a 50% match to each contribution.
The mission of SOIL Sangre de Cristo is to unite the communities of South-Central Colorado through direct support for local farmers, ranchers and food producers, improving food security and resiliency for all residents.
SOIL Sangre de Cristo’s member-funded zero-interest lending model is based on the Slow Money Principles developed by author and activist Woody Tasch. In Colorado, SOIL-affiliated groups are creating more resilient food systems in the communities around Boulder, Durango, and Carbondale, with more than $900,000 in loans for crucial items such as tractors, worker housing, and irrigation, season extenders and other farming aids to reach maximum success.