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PVGrows Investment Fund Reaches Milestone in Support of Local Food Businesses

GREENFIELD — The three-year-old Pioneer Valley Grows Investment Fund (PVGIF), a program that provides financing and technical assistance to farm and food businesses through community investments, has marked a major milestone — $1.25 million raised and financing provided to more than 25 local farm and food entrepreneurs primarily located in Western Mass. The fund is actively seeking more investors to raise an additional $1.25 million to continue this work.

Administered by the Franklin County Community Development Corp. (FCCDC), the PVGrows Investment Fund offers an innovative, mission-driven way for community members to invest in their values by supporting and sustaining businesses that can make real changes to how people grow, distribute, and buy food.

“It takes the local movement to a whole new level. It’s beyond eating local — it’s investing locally,” said John Waite, executive director of the FCCDC.

The fund was started in October 2015, and to date has nearly 50 investors, including individuals, businesses, and foundations. Open to investors located in New England and New York, the PVGrows Investment Fund has a minimum investment of just $1,000, with interest paid annually. These community investments are pooled together to provide the financing that farm and food entrepreneurs need to grow their businesses. Food and farm businesses applying for financing and business support are vetted for mission fit by a consortium of community-lending institutions and food and agriculture specialists.

Terry and Susan Ragasa, owners of Sutter Meats in Northampton, came to the PVGrows Investment Fund early on. ”From start-up funds to get us open to facilitating a business consultation to get us to the next level, the PVGrows Investment Fund has been an incredibly supportive asset for Sutter Meats,” Terry said.

The PVGIF community of investors and borrowers from across the Pioneer Valley will gather on Thursday, Oct. 4 from 5 to 7 pm at Raven Hollow Winery at Kosinski Farms in Westfield to celebrate its third anniversary and look ahead to the next phase of the fund’s operation. The event will provide an opportunity to learn more about the PVGrows Investment Fund, hear from investors and entrepreneurs, sample food from PVGIF borrowers, and find out how to get involved. To RSVP, click here.

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