Got Milk? Yep, we do. Got Money? Hmmmmmmmm…..

The USDA Value Added Producers Grant

Mark has been steadily calling each Essex Farm member over the last few weeks, to hear what products people want to see in the share in the next few years. If he hasn’t reached you yet, he will.

Cheeses and more dairy products are high on the collective wish list. With that in mind, we are applying for a Value Added Producer’s Grant (VAPG) from the USDA, to help us create a proper, legal creamery and cheese cave on our farm.

We plan to add a line of pasteurized, cultured dairy products to the share, including yogurt, butter, Greek yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, and hard and soft cheeses, as well as pasteurized milk, skim milk, and cream. We plan to continue to distribute raw milk, too.

The VAPG would pay half of the actual payroll, marketing, transportation and packaging expenses for this new dairy venture every month for the first three years, up to $250,000. The farm pays the other half.

The grant requires proof that we can access the money we need to cover our side of the obligation. We have already collected proof of most of the total from a combination of credit line, in-kind contributions of raw product, owner labor, cash on hand, and a bank note (whew), but are looking to secure another $100,000 in third party guarantees.

It’s always uncomfortable (for me, anyway – I won’t speak for Mark) to ask for financing from our members, but I do it anyway, and you always come through with enthusiasm and generosity. That’s been an incredibly powerful part of our Community Supported Agriculture adventure.  So: If you are able to guarantee a three year line of credit for us, in whole or in part, would you get in touch as soon as possible? As usual, we’re coming up fast against a deadline, and time is of the essence. Call or text Mark at 518-570-6399, send us an email at, or come by the farm to chat and get more information.

Thank you as always for making this farm work.

With warm regards,

Kristin & Mark Kimball