By Keri Johnson, AmeriCorps VISTA member

Rural Action has endorsed loans through Kiva for businesses and producers, including Snowville Creamery, Wildcat Ridge Farms, and Green Edge Gardens. These loans support integral improvements such as hay bale storage and backup generators for production equipment and can be the catalyst for long-term, sustainable success for small farms.

Credits: Nate Swanson

For Lisa Heinz, sole proprietor of Southeast Ohio Fiberworks, the most recent producer endorsed by Rural Action, this loan will help establish a regional fiber hub to create value for regional wool through her business, while offering specialty wool and fiber products that are sustainably produced on small local farms.

With help from the crowd-funded Kiva loan, Heinz will process 200 pounds of ethically produced and sustainably harvested wool into roughly 650 skeins.

Impressively, more than 50 people funded Heinz’s $8,000 loan in under three days.

Heinz seeks to restore a domestic, local, sustainable and ethical fiber supply chain, rooted in southeast Ohio. It empowers farmers by paying for necessary shearing services and by developing multiple revenue streams from these raw materials; Thereby developing a healthier, more productive herd and keeping material out of the waste stream.

“Southeast Ohio Fiberworks provides specialty wool products from various breeds of livestock in the southeast Ohio region. These products have different usable qualities, and because they come from renewable resources on small farms, they are sustainably produced in the USA.”

Kiva uses a model similar to other crowdfunding sites to fund loans for individuals and businesses. Borrowers repay the loans with zero interest, and investors receive their money back once the loan has been repaid. Before the Southeast Ohio Fiberworks campaign, Rural Action endorsed five local farmers and producers for a total of over $24,000, with investors bringing in an additional $29,000.

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