Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems

Danel Wallace and Gray Harris, CEI's Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Program

Gray Harris, Senior Program Director, Natural Resource Sectors (pictured here with Loan & Investment Officer Daniel Wallace), oversees CEI’s Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Program

CEI’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Program supports an economically just and sustainable food system that creates quality jobs for a diverse workforce and builds wealth and resilience in rural communities. In the past five years, CEI provided $10.4 million in loans and investments to 87 agricultural and food-related enterprises. This activity leveraged an additional $37.2 million, created and/or retained 634 jobs, and helped to maintain 8,377 acres of farmland in production.

Free Business Counseling
CEI’s agriculture and food system staff coordinate team-based business planning with the Maine Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Women’s Business Center (WBC), and StartSmart, a microenterprise program for immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs. In addition, CEI connects clients to external resources such as consultants or grant opportunities as appropriate.

To Apply for Financing
CEI offers short and long term financing from $10,000 or less, to greater than $500,000. Please contact us for more information or to discuss your financing needs. To apply, fill out CEI’s general loan application. Loan applications must be accompanied by complete, investment-grade business plans. Email the completed and signed application, or mail to: CEI Lending Department, 30 Federal Street, Suite 100, Brunswick, Maine 04011.

Eligible Clients

  • Farms
  • “Value chain” businesses such as food processors, distributors, and value-add manufacturers, as well as infrastructure businesses such as farm inputs or composters
  • Food retailers, such as independent grocers, coops, or local food markets
  • Food-related nonprofits and food access organizations

Current Sector Initiatives
CEI is involved in a number of initiatives to support the development of the sector overall. Contact us about any of the initiatives listed below.

  • Healthy Food Finance Initiative—healthy food access for underserved populations, particularly in retail settings like farm stands, food coops, and independent grocery stores
  • Healthy General Store Initiative—incentivizing sales of fresh, healthy foods in Maine’s remote rural general stores
  • Beginning Farmer Resource Network—a coalition of agriculture agencies and organizations that connect beginning farmers to critical resources for business success
  • Wolfe’s Neck Farm Organic Dairy Program—a dairy business incubator program training the next generation of organic dairy farmers in Maine
  • Slow Money Maine—a network connecting investors with farmers and infrastructure businesses to catalyze the local food economy
  • Fair Food Fund’s Business Assistance Collaborative—a technical assistance resource program awarding small grants to food system infrastructure businesses to retain consulting services
  • Maine Food Strategy Steering Committee—supporting a statewide participatory process that will identify and advance shared goals to support a robust food economy in our state.
  • Cultivating Maine’s Food Sector Workforce—creating shared understanding for ongoing collaboration among businesses, workforce service organizations, public policy leaders, and food system support organizations

For questions regarding our business counseling and financing services, please contact:

Gray Harris, Senior Program Director, Natural Resource Sectors
(207) 504-5864

Daniel Wallace, Loan & Investment Officer
(207) 535-2916


View the CEI Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Brochure here.