ASHLAND, WI – Just in time for the 2013 summer planting season, the Chequamegon Food Co-op awarded $16,000 in micro-loans and grants. Both programs were developed in an effort to help farmers build a stronger local food economy and to provide more local foods for the Co-op’s shelves.

The Co-op’s micro-loan program began in 2008 as a way for the cooperative business to invest its profits in the local food system. Loans are capped at $2,500 and have a 2-year payback period. Micro-loan recipients were as follows:

  • Michael Stanitis of Sassy Nanny Farmstead Cheese in Herbster, Wis. received a loan for fencing materials to be used as part of a forest/pasture rotational grazing system for dairy goats.
  • The McCutchen family of Angel Acres Farm in Mason, Wis. received loans to boost production of both farm-fresh eggs and pastured pork.
  • Xander Waters and Melissa Helman of Mammoth Pastures in Ashland, Wis. received loans to purchase plants, electric fencing, and greenhouse materials.

This year, the Co-op also offered $5,000 in grant money. These funds were made available due to the generous support of private donors. Grant recipients were as follows:

  • Landis and Steven Spickerman of Hermit Creek Farm in High Bridge, Wis. received funds to insulate their new pack and storage building for vegetables. This building will help Hermit Creek increase production of their high-quality, certified organic vegetables that have been a staple of the store for twenty plus years.
  • Tom Galazen and Ann Rosenquist of North Wind Organic Farm in Bayfield, Wis. received funds to convert an old Allis Chalmers G cultivating tractor from diesel to solar electric energy. The tractor will be used for environmentally friendly and efficient weeding of the sweet and beautiful berries that have been a perennial favorite at the Co-op since the 1980s.
  • Todd and Kelsey Rothe of River Road Farm in Marengo, Wis. will use their funds to assist in the building of a new wash and pack station for fresh greens and other vegetables.
  • Brian Clements of Northcroft Farm in Mason, Wis. received funds for farmers’ market display equipment including stands and baskets.
  • The McCutchen family of Angel Acres Farm in Mason, Wis. received funds to assist in an effort to develop an effective pastured poultry system for farm fresh eggs. The McCutchens will build an “egg-mobile” to move their chickens to fresh pasture on a regular basis.
  • Chris Duke of Great Oak Farm in Mason, Wis. and a few neighboring farms submitted a collaborative proposal to purchase a Jang brand crop seeder. The two-wheeled push seeder directly sows seeds into the soil at appropriate spacing. The seeder will be used primarily for vegetable crops such as carrots, beets, and salad mix.

To learn more about the Chequamegon Food Co-op micro-loan program and community grants, please contact Alan Spaude-Filipczak, local food projects coordinator, at (715) 682-8251 or

The Chequamegon Food Co-operative is a member-owned natural foods store that specializes in local products within 100 miles of Ashland, Wisconsin.