Apple Creek Farm Pays Loan



The BCDI Loan Fund is seeking investment shares ($250 per share) to provide $7000 to a young farmer operating an organic farm in Bowdoinham to proceed with the expansion of his sheep raising operation through installing fixed sheep fencing. Most of the costs of the fencing will be reimbursed through a grant from USDA which has already been approved but that can only be disbursed on completion of the work according to USDA specifications.

The Background
BCDI is continuing to mobilize local resources to help the community build on the wonderful assets that exist already – a burgeoning group of young farmers committed to sustainable agriculture, a vibrant arts scene, a long history of an eclectic population tempered by a strong sense of community, a location on Merrymeeting Bay midway between four key Maine cities – to make Bowdoinham an even better place to live and work. BCDI aims to stimulate, grow and sustain healthy local enterprises, create resilient local jobs, and facilitate collaboration among the for-profit, non-profit, and government sectors in the local community. BCDI’s focus is on farms, food, forests, the music, the art and the artisans that accompany them and the local businesses that support them.

BCDI’s main undertaking has been the establishment of a lending mechanism to meet local needs with local capital. The idea emerged when discussing the real needs of some of the young people in town as well as the need to bring back a “credit union of the old school” (small, focused on the serving needs of the local community, with no ambition to expand.) The fund’s first investment opportunities have provided $19,000 to support expanding organic produce farmers in Bowdoinham. Loan applications have been processed from receipt to disbursement (including the necessary due diligence and vetting of the application and raising the required capital) in approximately three weeks. The first two loans were paid back in full and ahead of their dates due.

The Application
Apple Creek Farm is a diversified livestock farm established in Bowdoinham in 1985. Jake and Pete Galle currently manage the farm with a long-term goal of Jake and his partner Abby Sadauckas transitioning into full-time operators. Pete and his wife Janet began raising sheep over 40 years ago, 30 of those years have been in Bowdoinham. In the early 2000’s they integrated beef cows in to the operation. This farm produces grass fed beef and lamb products that are directly marketed to consumers. As the animal numbers have grown the need for more pasture has grown as well. The method of rotational grazing is used to reduce stress on pastures, cut down on parasite problems, divide fertility equally across the pastures, and provide the animals with grasses and legumes in quality stages of growth.

In 2009, Apple Creek Farm began leasing a pasture at 1318 River Road. The addition of this pasture allowed the home fields to have a lower carrying capacity of animals to acreage percentage. For the past four years the lambs transported to this pasture have been rotationally grazed using temporary electric fencing. In 2012 a three-year contract between NRCS-Natural Resource Conservation Services (USDA) and Apple Creek Farm was signed. This contract is for multiple improvements to the leased pasture at 1318 River Road. In the second year of the contract NRCS is providing funds for permanent fencing, pasture forage reseeding, and several other projects to be completed in 2013. The funds are provided after the projects have been completed and signed off on by our NRCS agent. Apple Creek Farm requests a loan amount of $7000 in order to help fund the upfront costs of fence materials and installation, and for partial seed purchases. The amount of the loan can be repaid in full before the end of 2013. The permanent fencing will allow for greater number of animals to graze at this pasture with better protection from predators. Luckily to date, no lambs have been lost or killed while at this pasture. The permanent fencing will also allow for yearling beef cattle to graze at this site – creating a needed security that temporary fencing cannot provide. The more animals that can be finished on pasture at this site means more local meat available to local consumers and with greater consistency. With help from BCDI and community members, this project may entice others to consider leasing land – providing opportunity for landowners with open space to remain open and become productive once again.

The Investment
The BCDI Loan Fund is seeking investment shares ($250 per share) to provide $7000 to proceed with the construction of the approved fencing. The loan will be repaid in full by 31 December 2013 and you will receive your initial investment plus interest at a rate of 2% for the life of the loan. For example, if you invest $500 you will receive $510 before the end of the year – better in fact than you might get on a CD at the bank – plus you will be supporting a local farmer who provides wonderful healthy food to the community (including at the Bowdoinham Farmers’ Market) and to the economy of the community. BCDI will charge 3% interest on the loan to the farmer, plus an administrative fee of $50.

The Risks
All investment has risk. In this case the risks are relatively small. In the interest of transparency and a further word of caution, however, note that BCDI is not a bank and the criteria applied in considering this loan are more personal and less rigid than might be applied by a bank. This process is locally focused – the individuals are personally known, and the screening committee’s examination of the application has been conducted in the spirit of neighbors seeking to find ways to help neighbors, and by doing so strengthen the community itself.
That said, the application process has been rigorous: the application review was done by a Screening Committee ( Kathy Gallant, Kathy Montejo, Steve Bunn, David Engler and Jack Beaudoin) with broad and varied business, banking, farming, management experience; it examined the application thoroughly and did due diligence on the request. While this may on the one hand simplify the procedure, it does imply a certain amount of good faith. In the opinion of the committee that reviewed this application, however, the risks are within tolerance, and the loan was recommended for approval, and the BCDI Board concurred. If for any reason the loan does not go forward and the funds are not disbursed, your investment, which will be held pending disbursement in a BCDI account at Norway Savings Bank, will be returned in full.

The Rewards
1. You will be making an investment that you can see, and in a neighbor you know.
2. You will be supporting the further development of the healthy food practices in Bowdoinham.
3. You will be helping expand local employment.
4. You will be helping advance the creation of a local community support mechanism (BCDI) and
5. You will be helping facilitate access to an important USDA-NRCS program

The Next Step
There are a several ways to respond to this initiative, but we do hope that you will respond, even if it is to say “no thanks”.

1. Yes, I would like to invest in the BCDI loan fund for this fencing project with an investment of $________ (multiples of $250)
2. I like this concept, but prefer not to invest at this time. Please keep me on the list and informed of other investment opportunities as they arise.
3. I am not interested in investing in this way, but please keep me informed about the evolution of BCDI and its engagement in the Bowdoinham Community.
4. I am not interested in this initiative. Please remove me from the list of future recipients.

If you know other Bowdoinham community members who you think might be interested in making this kind of investment, please share this with them or have them visit our website:

182 Ridge Road
Bowdoinham, ME 04008
Telephone: 522 4118

Thanks for taking the time to consider this opportunity to engage in the Community of Bowdoinham.

Posted in Programs & Projects