$1M Impact Investment Helps Small Farmers Realize Big Dreams on Central Coast

CEO Susan True speaks to KION's Ashley Keehn about our impact investment with CA Farmlink. 

New mission-aligned investment sUPPORTS sustainable agriculture

A million dollars in new loan capital is being activated to help farm-based entrepreneurs on the Central Coast grow their businesses. The impact investment from the Community Foundation uses philanthropy in a new way. The funds come in the form of a cost-effective loan to California FarmLink’s lending program, which in turn offers access to capital for small and mid-sized farmers. Once repaid, the loan dollars will get recycled for a new social initiative. 

IMMIGRANT, NEXT-GENERATION FARMERS GAIN ACCESS TO LOANS

The funds aim to achieve both a modest financial return and positive social impact targeted at critical segments of the regional workforce. Boosted by a six-figure gift by an anonymous donor to the Foundation’s Community Investment Revolving Fund, the loan will support farmers who otherwise face difficulty securing business financing due to limited business history and other factors. “FarmLink’s loans have been crucial for my business,” reports Zea Sonnabend of Fruitilicious Farm in Corralitos. “Their combination of financing and education helps underserved local, organic, and beginning farmers to grow and thrive.”

“This investment is vital for the next generation of local farmers. FarmLink’s lending helps create pathways to ownership, and supports our ability to help build wealth among low-income families,” said FarmLink Executive Director Reggie Knox. Community Foundation Santa Cruz County CEO Susan True shared, “This model provides us and our donors another tool to solve pressing social challenges in a more sustainable way. We’re proud to work with trusted experts like FarmLink to invest in the next generation of farmers, and sustainable agriculture on the Central Coast.”

local imPact, from the ground up

Impact investments like this $1 million bring new resources to bear on large-scale issues like equitable access to business development loans and economic mobility for the middle class. By shifting a portion of its assets from Wall Street to entrepreneurs like Central Coast farmers, the Community Foundation is investing locally in the organizations creating a more sustainable future for residents of Santa Cruz County. This new form of capital investment provides another opportunity to grow philanthropy in the region and address critical social needs in the community. 

More coverage from KION, KSMS, and the Register-Pajaronian

Foundation trustee and Sun Valley Berries owner Rogelio Ponce speaks to KSMS's Adriana Frederick-Sutton.