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Local farmers to vye for loans at Pitchfest

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News from Community Food & Agriculture Coalition

MISSOULA — On Jan. 26, Missoula will host the nation’s first ever Kiva Pitchfest, an event to launch three crowdfunded loans to Western Montana farmers. Each farmer will make a short pitch of their business and their loan, and community members will have the ability to make 0 percent interest loans at the event.

Three local farmers will be pitching their loans at the event. Fresh Roots Farm in Polson is borrowing money to launch a side business offering paletas, Mexican-style popsicles made with fruits and vegetables from their farm. Ploughshare Farm in Moiese will use their loan to pay for seeds and other early-season costs. County Rail Farm in Huson is using their loan to pay for improvements at their brand new farm location.

At Farm Fresh Pitchfest, farmers will pitch their loan opportunities and each farmer will have a dedicated computer for lenders to make a loan at the event and will have direct links available for post-event lending as well. Anyone can make a loan and loans can range from $25 to $10,000. Lenders will be repaid via the Kiva website and will be able to withdraw their funds or loan again. A computer will be available on-site for lenders to create Kiva and PayPal accounts if needed.

“By lending as little as $25, you can directly support a local farmer,” said Annie Heuscher of Community Food & Agriculture Coalition. “This presents such a unique opportunity for community members to take money from their savings accounts where it’s likely not earning much interest anyway, and invest it into a local business where it will make a real, meaningful difference to the farm’s opportunity for success.”

Farm Fresh Pitchfest is free to attend. Bravo Catering has donated light appetizers for the event and Montgomery Distillery has donated the space.The first 25 individuals to make a loan will receive a free drink token.

Kiva is a unique crowdfunding platform for lending, rather than donating, to small-scale entrepreneurs across the street, across the country, or around the world. Through a new partnership with the CFAC in Missoula, Montana’s farmers and food business owners can receive an endorsement demonstrating CFAC’s confidence in their ability to repay the loan.

For more information on the event or Kiva lending, contact Annie Heuscher or 406-830-8218.


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