Iroquois Valley Farmland Partnership
Iroquois Valley Farms are partnering with Main Street Project in their work to create social change through perma-culture.
Main Street Project, a national program started at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has been helping develop a model for regenerative agriculture in Dakota County, Minnesota and since 2010. The goals are to:
- establish a path for Latino families to participate in the food system as dignified workers or as land and business owners,
- create food security and provide the local community with fresh eggs, meat, nuts, fruits, and vegetables,
- restore soils and create a bio-diverse, resilient perma-culture system where free-roaming poultry thrive, and
- educate the next generation of consumers and investors on the benefits of eating healthy.
By developing an alternative food system to reverse the destructive properties of industrial agriculture, the program aims to be competitive in the market on quality and price, harnessing market forces to increase capacity and resilience applicable to new and established farmers. Collaboration is critical in scaling the change to an economically viable and environmentally just food system. Iroquois Valley Farms are seventy percent millennial by tenancy and are acting as a bridge to farm ownership for a new generation that is inheriting a restoration project of massive proportions.
The partnership between Main Street Project and Iroquois Valley Farms is an example of a private-public collaboration that impacts the communities health. Since Iroquois Valley Farms is a public benefit corporation, they see the partnership with the nonprofit sector as vital to achieving a more healthy agriculture. Iroquois Valley Farms has recently deployed Soil Restoration Notes, a new funding structure supported by the NRCS division of the USDA through a Conservation Innovation Grant.
The Main Street Project is training some farmers so that they can be knowledgeable, observant, flexible, and creative. Programs that they offer educate the farmers in agricultural methods and processes, gives experience in a system of small poultry-based farm operations, and provides infrastructure and support needed to consistently deliver products. More than seventy farmers have participated in a curriculum taught in either English or Spanish, and accessible to students with a low literacy level. A youth enterprise training offers young entrepreneurs a one-year program that includes a guided introduction to food business planning and development, specialized training, and ongoing mentorship and technical support. Some past projects have included growing and harvesting crops, managing a tree nursery, assisting Main Street Project with research and development, and learning how to market and sell the products they have cultivated.
Main Street Project mainly focuses on poultry because pigs work well with crops, farms, and the environment, eating weeds, killing bugs, and enhancing soil instead of using harmful pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Chickens can also help to reverse global warming by increasing the soil's ability to sequester carbon. Chickens are raised in is symbiotic environment that is covered with a combination of perennials, cover crops, and small grains. In return, the chickens provide the manure to fertilize these plants.
In the collaboration Iroqouis Valley Farms is providing mortgage financing for Main Street's new 100 acre research and development farm and will be using all the proceeds from the Soil Restoration Notes to help with support. People can also support the Main Street Project by donating to their site.
As part of a $15 million pipeline of new business, Iroquois Valley is financing Boone County Organics which grows the aronia berry (also known as a choke berry) and grain farm located in central Iowa, operated by the Friedrichsen family. This is an example of how Iroquois heavily relies on support from investors to help organic farmers grow their family business. Iroquois Valley Farms are in their eleventh season now and Equity subscriptions are available for Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT here.