When the land Jennifer and Robert Sanders had been leasing for Heritage Farms went up for sale, they scrambled to scrape together resources to buy the property on Hood Road. Unable to raise or borrow enough money, in May they were dismantling the farm and “counting the days or weeks to move” when a surprising turn of events brought about by the application for capital investment Jennifer filed in association with her One Spark entry, Growing Power with Will Allen, changed everything.
After One Spark, Stache Investments Corp., an investment company owned by Shad Khan, contacted the couple to schedule a meeting to discuss a possible funding arrangement. They soon met with Jim Zsebok, Stache Investments’ chief investment officer, and were offered a tentative loan agreement.
Following a minor delay to conduct an environmental assessment of the property, it became official this week when The Daily Record reported that Stache Investments provided the Sanders with a $280,000 mortgage, $270,000 of which went to pay for the 2.58 acre property.
“I just mailed off my first payment a few days ago, and every night when I close the gates, I go, ‘Well, it’s mine, lock, stock and barrel.’ It’s a lot to be responsible for, but it’s a lot of opportunity,” Jennifer Sanders said.
She said Heritage Farms is more of a market garden than a commercial farm. Market gardens grow a high variety of product on relatively small acreage, typically 20 acres or less, and usually do not rely on mechanized farming equipment. The couple, who have been busily selling tomatoes, peppers and herbs, intend to initiate another round of crowdfunding in coming months to expand into aquaponics so they can start selling fresh fish in addition to vegetables, ornamentals and plants at the roadside stand they plan to soon add to the farm. They also intend to hire up to five additional employees to work the family farm alongside the couple and their son and daughter.
Thanks to One Spark and forces beyond human control, Heritage Farms has recently experienced a series of good fortune. In addition to the Stache Investments’ mortgage, people have contacted the Sanders to donate chickens, rabbits and bees, which will help Heritage Farms become more self-sustaining and productive.
“It seems like every other week somebody brings me a piece of the puzzle to make the ring complete,” Sanders said. “I don’t know what’s happening exactly and I’m not going to resist.”