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Michael

Double E Farms

Willseyville, NY

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Personal Story

My name is Mike. Together with my wife Jennifer I operate Double E Forest Farm near Willseyville, NY. We grow shiitake mushrooms on hardwood logs as our main crop. Our farm is located just south of the Finger Lakes on the north slope of a steep wooded hillside. Not great land for growing vegetables—but perfect for growing mushrooms and native plants that thrive in the forest understory. I didn’t start out as a mushroom farmer. Both Jennifer and I are transplants to New York—Jennifer from Oklahoma and myself from Florida, though Jennifer’s family has lived on this property since 1981. Soon after we got married in 1999 I lost my job in the publishing industry and we knew it was time for a new plan.

Fortunately, Jennifer had established herself as a successful entrepreneur with a loyal list of gardening clients. Since I had experience working as a landscaper in Florida, I decided to join Jennifer and together build up the gardening business. We got a New York State nursery license and began growing native plants to sell to our clients. In 2003 land next to us came up for auction at a county tax foreclosure sale. It turned out the land was the remainder of the historical 19th century wooded farmstead that originally contained the farmhouse we live in. We attended the tax auction, bid and, to our amazement, won. From the start we wanted to the land to remain in forest and we quickly realized we needed a plan to use it to generate at least enough income to cover the tax burden. So we began looking for a sustainable plan that would generate income from the new land and improve the health and natural diversity of the woods, which had recently been logged and needed help. We focused on the practices of agroforestry, or growing edible crops in the woodland understory. We began planting native plants like serviceberry, hazelnut and paw paw in the openings among the trees. We also started experimenting with shiitake mushroom cultivation. That was ten years ago. Today we grow hundreds of pounds of mushrooms per year and have a growing list of customers, including many who buy directly through a local CSA. We’ve worked in some other types of mushrooms as well as a seasonally limited harvest of ramps and fiddle head ferns. While it’s not a path to riches, growing and selling mushrooms in the woods has led us to a greater understanding and appreciation of the amazing life of forests and the crucial role that sustainable farming and small scale food production can play in our planet’s future.

Business Description

Double E Forest Farm produces mushrooms and other agroforestry crops grown in a woodland setting near Willseyville, New York. We started forest farming in 2003. Our farming venture started as a way to use our forested land to produce sustainable crops and contribute to our household income. At the same time our farming goals are to act as good stewards of the woods and to improve the overall health and diversity of the forest.

We grow most of our mushrooms on hardwood logs that have been culled or salvaged from the woods. Our customers are chefs and lovers of local produce. They tell us that log-grown shiitakes are superior to the commonly available variety that are produced from sawdust. The way we grow mushrooms is labor intensive compared to the larger scale indoor mushroom operations with which we compete. Our biggest challenge is being able to produce enough mushrooms to meet the growing demand in our local market without resorting to the use of mechanization.

What is the purpose of this loan?

We plan to use this loan to buy materials and some specialized labor necessary to finish a standing pole barn on our property. We will enclose and weatherize the existing building to make it useful for farm operations include sorting, storage and some mushroom production.
We expect this will extend our season and also make it possible to produce, process and store more mushrooms during peak times. We hope this improvement in our infrastructure will help us increase our farm revenue and provide a little breathing room for the business.

Michael's loan is endorsed by Regional Access Inc. The information below explains why his trustee thinks Michael is a great candidate for a Kiva Zip loan.
How long have you known this person?

More than 5 years

Tell us about your relationship with this borrower.

We met Mike several years ago when he came to Regional Access asking if we would consider selling his Shiitake Mushrooms. We were immediately impressed by the quality of his product. His mushrooms have been selling consistently through Regional Access ever since. We are in contact with Mike weekly in the summer to place orders for Mushrooms.

Tell us about this borrower's personality and character, and why you are endorsing him or her for a Kiva Zip loan.

Mike has a wonderful, sweet and determined personality. He is passionate about his business and truly wonderful to work with. He has proven to be very reliable and offer us excellent quality locally produced mushrooms. It is exciting to me that he is looking to expand his business so that we can offer more product to our customers.

Tell us about this borrower's business, and why you believe a Kiva Zip loan will contribute to his or her success.

Mike has been growing and selling Shiitake Mushrooms in and around the Ithaca NY area for many years In fact I believe he was one of the first farmers to take on this highly sustainable form of mushroom growing. He has an excellent reputation of growing and selling very high quality product. I have first hand experience using his shiitake's and can say whole hardly that they are awesome. He has teamed up with a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to distribute his mushrooms as well as distributing them through Regional Access. I have not had any trouble selling what he has to offer each week. Having known Mike for several years I do not believe that he would engage in a loan program that he could not with confidence pay back in a timely manner.

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PAYING BACK

A loan of $5,000 helps me to enclose and weatherize an existing pole barn for use in mushroom production.

Disbursed Jul 17, 2013
Repayment Term:
12 monthly payments
Grace Period:
6 months
Listed:
Jul 12, 2013
Disbursed:
Jul 17, 2013
Paying Back:
Jul 18, 2013

About Double E Farms

Industry:
Agriculture
Years in Operation:
More than 5 years
Website:
doubleeforestfarm.com/
Follow:
Facebook Twitter
Badges:
Badge_connectedness_gold_small

What are Borrower Badges?

Borrower Badges are a system designed to recognize and reward borrowers’ engagement with the Kiva Zip website.

There are two types of badges that are tiered like medals: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

  1. 'Repayment badges' are awarded for the on-time repayment of loans.
  2. 'Connectedness badges' are awarded for engagement with the Kiva Zip website.

This loan is endorsed by

Trustee Type:
Food Distributor
Location:
Ithaca , NY
Badges:
None
On Zip Since:
Jul 12, 2013
(9 months)
Loans Endorsed:
1
Total Value:
$5,000
Fundraising/Raised:
0
Paying on Time:
Not enough data
Paying Back Late:
Not enough data
Repaid in Full:
0
Defaulted:
0
Repayment Rate:
Not enough data
Why are you endorsing Michael?

Mike has a wonderful, sweet and determined personality. He is passionate about his business and truly wonderful to work with. He has proven to be very reliable and offer us excellent quality locally produced mushrooms. It is exciting to me that he is looking to expand his business so that we can ...

What are Trustee Badges?

Trustee Badges are a system designed to recognize and reward trustees’ engagement with the Kiva Zip website.

There are two types of badges that are tiered like medals: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

  1. 'Repayment badges' are awarded for the on-time repayment of loans.
  2. 'Connectedness badges' are awarded for engagement with the Kiva Zip website.
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