The Food Project has been engaging young people in sustainable agriculture since 1991. Each year, 150 teenagers from Greater Boston and the North Shore of Massachusetts are engaged in meaningful work leading volunteers and growing food in Lincoln, Boston, Beverly, and Lynn. The produce from the farms is donated to hunger relief organizations, sold at farmers’ markets and through CSA programs. The Food Project supports access to healthy food in the communities where they work through a variety of programs and they offer training and curriculum to help share their model.
Equity Trust Fund has made two loans to The Food Project, the first during a time of transition in the organization’s early years. The second loan was made in 2001 to secure a permanent base for the organization and its staff through acquisition of an office building near its program operations in Lincoln. It was very important to the organization to set down roots in the community it was trying to serve, yet there are few appropriate properties available in Lincoln. The loan allowed the Food Project to act on a unique opportunity when the ideal building was for sale. Although the Food project was able to repay the loan with rents from the building after three years, at the time, no commercial lender was prepared to make such a large loan relative to their operating budget, so Equity Trust’s involvement was key.