Friends Jeff and Abigail Fisher, Ben Whalen and Melissa Law began farming on just two acres of leased land in Buxton, Maine, in 2014. As they gained experience, their dreams grew, and they set out to find a piece of land of their own. “For new farmers, finding land that is affordable with the necessary infrastructure to run a business is challenging. You really have to make do with what you have and make it work,” said Jeff.
When 88 acres of farmland came on the market at the former Weeks Farm in Windham, the friends jumped at the opportunity, and Bumbleroot Organic Farm was born. When time and money was tight, CEI stepped in to support Bumbleroot Organic Farm through financing and technical assistance.
“CEI was one of the first lenders we contacted and from day one everyone at CEI was supportive of our proposal and helped us to articulate our business plan and vision for the property. As a multi-member LLC made up of two couples, having just finished our first farm season, we might have seemed like less than ideal candidates for a loan. But CEI recognized what we had accomplished in our first year and believed in our potential to deliver on our plans for the future.”–Jeff Fisher, Co-Owner Bumbleroot Organic Farm
In order to secure purchase of The Weeks Farm, a business plan involving a Maine Farmland Trust Land Easement which significantly offset costs and protected the farmland, plus technical assistance and a loan from CEI was set in motion.
Establishing roots at the new location in Windham has helped the farmers not only grow their production, but also their clientele. With daily reach into the Greater Portland area, Bumbleroot is already expanding their CSA offerings and membership.
Bumbleroot Organic Farm is a rising leader in the southern Maine community because of its commitment to increasing access to locally-grown farm-fresh food which is distributed to low-income and disadvantaged Mainers through programs including Creative Trails in Portland and My Place Teen Center in Westbrook, as well as accepting SNAP benefits.
So what’s next for Bumbleroot? Growing from two acres to 88 acres of land will allow the farmers to add livestock, perennial crops, cover crops, and winter greenhouses. “With CEI’s help we will be able to continue to connect people with the land and food that sustains them,” Jeff concluded.