Photo credit: Marilyn Humphries

Farm Fresh Rhode Island

Farm Fresh Rhode Island
Providence, RI
Financing Used For
Loan Amount
$2.6 million
Loan Length
21–36 Months
Number of Loans

Farm Fresh Rhode Island has a radical idea: The first step in creating access to fresh food is to support local farmers.

As Lucie Searle of Farm Fresh explains, “When we were founded 16 years ago, you couldn’t buy an apple grown in Rhode Island at a Rhode Island grocery store — even though we grow a lot of apples. A lot of our early work was connecting people to fresh produce: Creating farmer’s markets, telling people where they could find fresh produce.”

The Farm Fresh Saturday winter farmer’s market attracts 3,000–4,000 people in four hours. They also manage 10 summer farmer’s markets statewide. Both give Rhode Island farmers a direct outlet to consumers, and both accept Bonus Bucks, which doubles the spending power on fruits and vegetables for families using SNAP.

In addition to farmer’s markets, Farm Fresh runs Harvest Kitchen, a job-training program for system-involved youth, which helps prevent food waste by making soups, applesauce and other comestibles from farmers’ excess produce. They also operate Market Mobile, a program that generates over $2 million annually for local farmers by distributing their wares wholesale—including stops at food pantries desperate for fresh produce.

“Farm Fresh exists at the intersection of farm viability and food access. We do our best to bring more money back to the farms, so they can continue to do what they’re doing,” says Farm Fresh Co-Director Jesse Rye.

Using financing from BlueHub, Farm Fresh was able to expand their impact by developing a 60,000-square-foot headquarters. Half the building houses their existing programs, and half is manufacturing and retail space for local farm-to-food businesses.

New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) were a significant funding source for this project and brought added complexity, as NMTC funds are only available once all other funding is in hand. BlueHub Loan Fund provided the necessary bridge loan that enabled Farm Fresh to close on the NMTC.