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Financing Land Security

In 2022, we partnered up to make land ownership a reality for BIPOC farmers.

Rural Beacon Initiative, Croatan Institute, and Foodshed Capital convene
to celebrate the groundbreaking at Free Union Farm in 2022

Rural Beacon Initiative

Place: 52 acres in Pineywoods, North Carolina 

People: Led by climate and environmental justice expert William Barber III

Purpose: Demonstration farm, regional food access and renewable energy hub

Funding: 0% loan participation agreement in partnership with Croatan Institute

Rural Beacon Initiative (RBI) works to advance community ownership in the new clean energy economy. Founded by environmental/climate justice scholar and advocate William Barber III, RBI believes that bridging climate investment and social equity starts with creating model communities that are replicable, scalable, and address the urgent climate and social issues of our time.

They're kickstarting this work at Vera Brown Farm (renamed
Free Union Farms), a 52-acre parcel of land in a historic freedmen's community in an economically distressed region of eastern North Carolina. Under RBI's management, it will become a multi-phase, multi-enterprise sustainability hub that demonstrates renewable energy, regenerative agricultural practices, and increases regional food access.

Foodshed Capital partnered with Croatan Institute to develop an innovative, integrated financing model that pairs low-cost financing with a loan guarantee and philanthropic support. In March of 2022, the partnership successfully financed the purchase of the land with a 0% interest loan, and in May 2022, Rural Beacon broke ground on the project.


The Southeastern United States, and rural communities in
particular, are too often hotbeds of poverty, environmental disaster, and economic disinvestment.
This project is our attempt to
stand in the gap and help
create a new direction."

- William Barber III

William Barber III
Rural Beacon Initiative

Petersburg Oasis CommUNITY Farm

Place: 5 acres in Petersburg, Virginia

People: Tyrone Cherry III, educator, farmer, and food justice advocates


Purpose: Demonstration farm, regional food access and renewable energy hub

Funding: 0% loan participation agreement in partnership with Croatan Institute

The Petersburg Oasis CommUNITY Farm is located in a classified food desert in central Virginia, and its name is a reference to the farm's potential to serve as an oasis of hope. Project lead Tryone Cherry III is an educator and food justice advocate who is dedicated to increasing fresh food access for public elementary and middle schools and neighbors nearby. The farm's community garden spaces, educational programming, farmer training programs, and produce stand have already made substantial impacts in the community. After over six years of working on the same property, Cherry and his team have invested considerable time and resources into building infrastructure and place-based programming, and they have long hoped for a way to have more stability in the property.

The 5-acre farmland where Petersburg Oasis CommUNITY Farm operates recently came up for sale. Through a partnership with Agrarian Trust and the Central Virginia Agrarian Commons, Cherry was presented with an innovative way to secure the land. While the organizations fundraised in support of the propety purchase, Foodshed Capital extended a 0% interest bridge loan for Agrarian Trust and the local Central Virginia Agrarian Commons to secure the property. The purchase ensures the property will never be sold again and provides Cherry and his team with the security of a 99-year lease to grow their operation and expand programming.


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Tyrone Power Cherry III 
Petersburg Oasis
CommUNITY Farm

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Foodshed Capital lending and outreach teams and board member Harrison Roday learning about the vision in Petersburg, VA

Butts Bros Farm

Place: 100+ acres in upstate New York

People: Justin Butts, farmer, chef, and veteran


Purpose: Expand diversified animal husbandry and farm-to-table operation

Funding: 0% loan participation agreement in partnership with Trellis Capital and Local Farms Fund

Butts Bros Farm is a nose-to-tail diversified livestock operation that centers environmental stewardship, education, and food access. 

Manged by Justin Butts, a Navy veteran, certified chef with a degree from The Culinary Institute of America, a seasoned livestock manager trained at The Seed Farm and Soul Fire Farm, and a Braiding Seeds Fellow, Justin brings a wealth of  experience to his operation. His goal is to create a holistic farm, food, and value-added enterprise that can also serve as an incubator and community space for BIPOC and veteran farmers.

In collaboration with a variety of funding partners including Trellis Capital and Local Farms Fund, Foodshed Capital is proud to have supported Butts Bros Farm with a 0% interest loan to purchase a 100+ acre property in upstate New York, which will give him the security to invest in permanent infrastructure and make holistic long-term plans for his business. 

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Justin Butts
Butts Bros Farm

Interested in supporting BIPOC Land Security?

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