Permanent Land Tenure
Feb 01, 2021
Feb 01, 2021
Where traditional financial institutions have failed to support a successful, growing farm business, Fisheye is inviting the community to step in.
Fisheye Farms began when Andy Chae and Amy Eckert started producing vegetables and edible flowers on less than one-tenth of an acre of borrowed land. After a successful first season demonstrated high market demand, they utilized Steward funding to purchase nine connected, previously vacant lots from the City of Detroit in Core Cityamending soil, installing irrigation, and building hoop houses to support the growth of their business. Reason for Fundraising The innovative nature of Fisheye Farms urban design (a collection of nine city lots totaling 0.89 acres of production space) is challenging for traditional lenders to evaluate and support. The production sites have been deemed too difficult to appraise by most lenders, forcing the Fisheye team to look for alternative financing. Financing is the hardest part of our job, and I think thats saying something! Fisheye Farms This fundraise supports a real estate mortgage loan secured by the property and assets of the nine lot parcel. Now that Fisheye Farms business has been established and validated, more permanent financing will reduce their current cost of capital. Reducing the pressures of high interest rates will allow the Fisheye team to pay off debt sooner, commit more resources to business growth and revenue-driving ventures, and achieve their goal of owning their land outright.
A Model for Future Farms There are currently 2.05 million farms in the US, a drastic reduction from a peak of 6.8 million in 1935. Of those 2 million, over half (1 million+ farms) are considered very small farms by the USDA. These farms record less than $10,000 in annual sales and their producers receive most of their income from off farm jobs. In order to realize the benefits of regenerative agriculturecarbon sequestration, higher nutrient foods, increased biodiversity, recharged aquifersthe US food system needs a drastic increase in the number of farms, hands on the land, and acreage under regenerative management. Fisheye Farms partnership with Steward perfectly demonstrates how capital building and business support can activate those 50% of US farms to restore degraded lands, provide much-needed produce to communities, and build resilient and profitable businesses doing so. At the beginning of their journey, Fisheye started small, took on the risk of building from the ground up, and established a successful foundation. After three profitable years on the land, in which they have consistently met revenue benchmarks, it is time to transition the initial development loan to permanent, stabilized financing. This reinvestment will bring down their overall cost of capital, freeing the Fisheye team to make further investments in this and future land.