In 2010, after deciding not to pursue a career in education in my home state of New Jersey, I moved across the country to San Francisco. I was fortunate to quickly get a job at a restaurant called the Woodhouse Fish Company. It was there I was introduced to the vast landscape of fresh local produce California is known for. I became fluent in the consumer and my personal demand to eat local food and became a frequent visitor to the cities farmer’s markets.
In the summer of 2014 I was evicted from my apartment which uprooted my life in the city. Barely making ends meet as it was I left in an unconventional fashion. I boarded the “Peoples Climate Train” with other climate, environmental, and food justice activist that took us on a cross country Amtrak ride from Emeryville to New York City to participate in the “Peoples Climate March” with close to a half million other people deeply concerned about the human relationship to our ecologic systems. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. On the train was journalist and writer Christopher Cook who shared his knowledge of our countries corrupt and nonsensical food system. He changed the way I looked at food and agriculture. I knew at that point I wanted to be a part of systemic change and learn how to farm using sustainable methods.
I moved to Little Rock, Arkansas in early 2015 and started working on a small organic farm called Sue’s Garden. It was a crash course in farming and farm business fundamentals. To me there is no more fulfilling feeling then the connection I have to land and food when farming, a feeling I plan on pursuing the rest of my life.
Little Fox Foods Co-op (LFFC) is a wholesale foods worker owned cooperative. Incorporated with the state of Arkansas in late 2015, it began a relationship with Meadowcreek Inc., a non-profit organization which helps incubate beginner farmer entrepreneurship. Meadowcreek Inc. deeded 5 acres of farmland to LFFC . Little Fox Farm, will be cultivated by members of LFFC. The five members of LFFC have farming experience that ranges from beginner farmers, to experienced farm hands, to an experienced farm manager. Little Fox Farm will cultivate southern staples but will primarily focus on Traditional Chinese Medicinal (TCM) crops and building healthy soil fertility. LFFC believes that TCM crops could become a new Southern cash crop. In the summer of 2015 members of LFFC cultivated “Tulsi Basil” and did market testing on its production with outstanding results. They found Tulsi to be a resilient crop that found a market easily. Main Street Apothecary in Little Rock purchased Tulsi from LFFC at $25 a pound. LFFC has lined up companies in Texas (Herbalogic) and North Carolina (Gaia Herbs) to buy TCM crops in bulk. LFFC has plans to value add their TCM crops in lines of local boxed tea. The produce that LFFC cultivates will also be value added in lines of kim chi, saurkraut, and seasonal goods. We will look to our rural Arkansas neighbor farms to provide produce we can’t grow ourselves to provide consumers with the freshest and healthiest wholesale products in the market. LFFC is in the process of product testing our lines of value added products and has started a marketing and bootstrapping campaign by doing catering events in popular Little Rock small businesses such as Stones Throw Brewery. LFFC understands the importance of having a rural to urban connection in the local food economy.
$5000 Loan Distribution:
$220- Certified Naturally Grown certification
$900- general farm equipment including weekend rental of wood chipper to amend soil and greenhouse repair
$210- soil additives
$220- irrigation lines
$600- initial value added wholesale inventory
$600- initial value added wholesale packaging
$400- tractor repair
$300- tractor supplies
$350- business licensure renewal
The cultivation of our farm will have long term financial gain impacts on our business. In the short term the initial inventory and packaging will enable our value added wholesale product line to start turning profit and give us working capital as well as establishing distribution lines into Arkansas urban centers of Clinton, Conway, and Little Rock.
So far Little Fox Foods Co-op has been a bootstrapped operation with members using their own funds and using funds from catering gigs and test production runs for the growth of the company. This will be the businesses first loan and first initial capital to expand the business like we haven’t been able to before and will provide space to be innovative in reaching wholesale foods markets.
-Little Fox Foods Co-op