~ Holistic Solutions from the ExCeptional in Jonesville ~

Owner:
Rochelle Long
2944 NC Hwy 67
Jonesville, NC 28642
email – click here

How did you hear about Slow Money NC?  I am a member, and have been, of the NC Farm List serv, growing small farms. There was a letter forwarded from your executive director, Carol.

Tell us your story. Who are you? What is your business idea? Tell us your plan. Feel free to get into the details.
I am a holistic health coach with 27 years of experience in the frequencies of healing. I have been learning about how frequencies in our mind, body and spirit cause either healing or destruction. Healing with plants, food and natural supplementation is extremely powerful. I was a very different child, living with undiagnosed autism in a time when people did not really even know of the condition. I was exposed to tons of cigarette smoke and many allergy causing foods which contributed to my being sickly most of my childhood. I was very aware of people, of other energy, and how things connect through energy at a very early age. I always got along with animals, and tended to many strays. by the time I was 9, I knew I wanted to be a healer, although I had no idea what that meant. I began a very spiritual journey at age 19, looking to find natural ways to heal from not only physical health challenges, but also trauma. While a student at Elon College, I was introduced to an adjunct instructor who taught Native American spirituality. My journey started there, and led me to pursue several degrees, certifications, and esoteric studies. I am an herbalist, select medicinal gardener, and avid writer. I herd goats, and chickens.

My goal is to create a place of learning, a haven of safety for those with disabilities, and to produce whole foods and value added products in a niche market. I strive to teach people how to heal themselves through a change in food, emotional well being and spiritual development.

As someone with Asperger’s, raising children with disabilities, I learned how the farm life was a healer. Animals offer unconditional love, and require the same. They teach many wonderful concepts, create a rhythm and sense of purpose due to the nature of livestocks’ need for consistent care and feed-milking schedule. Also, all food related plants need some sort of daily attention, so the farm teaches responsibility, empathy, develops emotional intelligence, and compassion. Any lesson can be taught from the farm. I had originally intended to have a farm based school, but as my sons have grown I have changed my concept.

At this point, there are many sick children, with learning disabilities and allergies rising at an alarming rate. Much can be done to alleviate, if not cure, many of these conditions through a return to more natural food sources, fermented foods, supplementation, vitamin dense farm products, sea minerals, ancient grains, and exposure to microbes that greatly benefit the bowel system via hand picking foods from the vine, and addition of beneficial microbial teas and liquid supplements.

I am working to create a two-property farm concept so I can take a triple-tiered approach to sustainable homestead farming; 1. the actual farm life – feeding and caring for chickens, goats and raising produce for sell in specialized markets 2. having value added products that bring more financial success to refurbish and maintain the farms’ operations and daily repair, labor and costs, 3. to have a a place for workshops, internships, educational opportunities for all ages.

The homestead has long been a place to develop the mind, teach viable skills, and offer opportunity for survival. It is the basis of permaculture in its truest form, as all have a place on the farm, and everything is utilized, recycled. In my mother’s time, born in 1928, there was no other way of life. Nothing was wasted, and all were used with gratitude. What better place to exemplify the tenents of the slow money ideal than by having young people come and work on a homestead? What better way to help support people with learning disabilities and other challenges than by giving them a place to run, play with animals, help carry water, take grain to goat kids and mommies in the field, collect eggs, and listen to the chicken flock communicate with each other freely in the woods and field? Emotional intelligence, responsibility, math, science, art – nothing is left behind.

I would like to get funding for any part of 3 special projects that would help me to operate autonomously, without suffering to get through each day doing all chores and whatever repairs I can, by myself, or to have space to add on an additional farm team member.

The most important one is for me to have a type of lawn tractor where I can pull a small trailer behind me to get bales of hay, potable water, and fencing or other heavy supplies around. I would like to have an attachment for a scraper to keep my hilly driveway clean in winter, as well as the hitch and a trailer so I can get many projects done myself. I currently hand carry all items over the hilly terrain, and some projects I am not able to do because of the terrain or weight of something. I hand carry about 20 gallons of warmed water every morning in winter, and will have to do manual labor, for example, drag 16′ cattle panels up an incline of over 320′ to make repairs in a failing fence. I also have to drag bales of hay uphill in the winter, as well. I think I can get a used one like I need, with trailer , and scraper for about $3800.00 Agribility may help me find grant money for this, but I’m not sure yet.

2. The second item would be to have money to build out a customized 10 x 10 dutch shed that would be placed on a special welded trailer so that I could gently move this milk shed between the 3 paddock sites on my homestead as a more efficient and sanitary milk parlor. The floors would have special reinforcement to handle the movement with the herd as the fields are rotated. It would have a sink, small cooling tank, and counter space and be a separate room from the actual milk area where there would be two milk stands for dual milking. Floors and walls would be wipe down and have a drain for excess water. It would be low enough to the ground that goats could come to a small chute like door as in older dairies for ease of traffic flow. I am still developing the price on this, as I have to find someone willing to work with me to draw plans and get weight limits and other important aspects of the design etc without being paid. I would love to have the money to pay a welder to help me design the correct trailer, and as well a general contractor. I remember a few years ago when I was in farm school while taking GAP training that one farm designed a portapotty with a sink on a trailer so that there was better sanitation in the field and a convenient way for field workers to take a break. He took it all over his fields, so I know this can be built
with the appropriate help. Another option will be to take my old pop up camper and turn it into a two room milk parlor.

3. Room renovation in the left half of my basement to make a bedroom suite and small kitchen space. Once I have this space closed in, I can create a simple kitchen to strain and cool the milk. I am looking at a micro 15 gallon tank as that seems to be the standard small size one.

Please briefly describe your commitment to sustainable food systems in North Carolina.
Everything I do to help people heal is about finding resources as close to them as possible. Local honey for sale in my region, local farms that are using healthier growing practices, feeding their livestock with non gmo feeds, those that have more space for the animals to roam and exercise, those adding more compost, microbes and natural nutrients to their soils, buying locally wildcrafted value added products, like sunflower oil produced near the coast in my soap, tinctures made in the region, mushrooms cultivated by local growers, and showcasing our region farms to help educate families about these products. I had the first wellness fair in our area last year, in conjunction with a small yoga studio in Elkin with 20+ local practitioners and health-oriented businesses. Health education is a key part of my work, and finding local food is always at the foundation of any wellness protocol or workshop that I utilize.

What will your sales be? What do you anticipate your profits/your margins will look like? How will you make the money to pay this loan back?
My herd has quadrupled in size this past year, due to the demand from the community. Word of mouth has been the biggest asset, as my product is superior, consistent and maintains quality far longer than other farms people have used in the past. Delivery to the niche market has added financial stability to the farm sales, as well. I am adding two small fields and a new shed this year to accomodate the size of the herd, and have stagger bred the does to have milk available for further into the year. I am adding a market to my delivery as soon as the work is done to the farm, so the farmer’s market can visit the farm. Farm shares are legal this year, so I am asking a $45.00 deposit per family to hold their spot for the year that will guarantee their price per gallon for the next two years. With the extra 15 gallons or so expected weekly, I can take on more new customers or freeze the milk to keep a supply in case people call who have new born puppies that need extra nutrition, or for soap makers. I am also targeting the breeders to consider adding a daily supplement to the dam’s rations while in milk to help increase milk supply and for nutrient retention. I have had to turn potential customers away in the past from lack of extra milk, and couldn’t store up any for potential sales before.
I have been researching how I would develop my cheese and milk sales for about 8 years. I was very interested in making an aged cheese using a blend of sheep and goat milk, but the Friesan sheep were too expensive at the time. I also was not able to work until about two years ago to produce enough income to buy more animals, repair and make new fenced in areas, and to get a new shed. Over the past two years that I have returned to work waiting tables, I was able to pay for some repairs as I go. I was also able to open a line of credit from my secu account that I’ve had for several years now, and have been rebuilding my credit. i have used that to make repairs on the home-farm, as it sat empty for several years before we bought it four years ago and the well and oil heat went out and had to be repaired. I have built my credit, and, with my steady work hours waiting tables, have been able to develop a farm delivery and am now delivering to a small market once a week. After I receive my tax return this month, I will pay on some bills, and get some much needed items for the farm, such as a shed for a new field I just had fenced in. I also just found someone selling Friesan sheep in Greensboro, which is very exciting for me, as that means they will be much more affordable, and I will start with four and breed them this summer, with the potential of having milk during the winter and start making small batches of cheese to experiment with the process required to make aged cheese legally. This will increase my sale potential hugely. The milk from the sheep would be available during the winter when most of the goats are bred, so it would help to ensure that I have extra income year round to pay back my loan. The new goats that are bred will also increase the amount of milk that I will have to sell per week, and my goal is to sell 50 gallons a week, consistently as the kids are weaned. Having eggs to sell also supplements my income, and as I am building clientele for future cheese sales, I take donations for my cheese and average about $200.00 a month from that, as well.
Egg sales are about $288 a month for six months and a little less throughout the rest of the year, depending on the weather and if they come into a molt, but I can depend on at least that much. The goat milk will be more than I’ve ever had before, as I’ve not been able to afford more than 3 goats, so this should be a good year for me. I’m looking at producing 50 gallons of milk a week for sale, and anything extra will go towards the cheese development. I’ve staggered the breeding this year in the hopes of having a ten month season, so that would offer about $600.00 a week. My costs are roughly $10106. in cluding travel to 4 drops a week, and sales are projected to be about 23328. roughly. This will depend on how many does survive, how much milk they actually produce, the quality of hay I can find this year to keep up milk production, and if customers build. I’m thinking that once i add the second farmer’s market on a delivery day, my sales will rise expoentially. I will also have several kids to sell this year, as I was able to breed my registered does to registered bucks. I have someone who is debudding the kids, as well, so they are worth more and sell easier. I should have at least 6 kids to sell, at about $120. each, for males.
As I get my farm renovations this year, using my tax money and continue working at cracker barrel, I feel these are low numbers. I figured in at 7 does being milked once a day giving a gallon a day for five days. Goats are often milked twice a day, especially in the first four months after weaning, and then I watch how the milk is flowing, based on how the doe is doing. Some give 2 gallons a day, some 1, some 3-4 of a gallon.
The herdshare regulation will make it a little easier to sell to new customers, but the cost per gallon is often off-putting. So, I’m doing less than I’m expecting to be as realistic as possible in numbers. The soap endeavor will be a new project, so I will experiment with small batches to do the financial analysis and make sure it is feasible, looking for at least a 150% profit margin. I have been asked to develop a drawing out product, so it might be that I make an ointment or salve vs. soap so I will work on the numbers over the next couple of weeks, but that would be added income, too, as it would be offered at both farmer’s markets, along with being placed in a local health food store.

Have you borrowed money before? How much did you borrow? From where? How long was the term? Is there a balance still due on that loan?
I have two small loans in total from SECU that were used for this and for our move to the home, with the total being i have used that to make repairs on the home-farm, as it sat empty for several years before we bought it four years ago and the well and oil heat went out and had to be repaired. I have two small loans in total from secu that were used for this and for our move to the home, with the total being right under 5k. I have used this line of credit to help us get back on our feet for about 9 years on and off for emergencies and things like that when I wasn’t able to work due to the age of my sons with different disabilities and diagnoses. I have a set amount that comes out each month to be drafted, around $230.00 a month.

Do you have people who would vouch for your credit worthiness? Who are they?
I have been banking with the State Employees Credit Union since 2011, and have been working with the same banker since 2013 when I was a student at Forsyth Tech getting my latest degree, which was Horticulture and Landscape Management. I have done my best to pay my bills and to get ahead after losing everything in 2011, and started over at ground zero financially after my family was torn apart. Every time I would get ahead, there would be different setbacks. I was finally at a place to be able to work outside of the home in 2017 as my sons became old enough to work and function better due to their Autism and other diagnoses, and I have been able to keep steady work to afford to move out of deep poverty and loss. I continue to pay off old debt and to add to my holistic business. Not sure who would be helpful, other than people who have seen me rise up from the ashes of losing everything, and the bank.

Tell us about your business background. Have you been in business before?
I have had to work since I was 13. I had two jobs at 15, while was in school, in honors classes and band. I worked many hours while in college, and have worked in food service for about 27 years. In my own business, I have been developing my farm concept for about 8 years, researching, studying, going to farm school, getting GAP certified, studying organic certification, learning about goats, and selling small amounts of goat milk to neighbors. I’ve taken accounting, done farm budget work, and studied marketing techniques. I also use social media such as facebook, twitter, and instagram, and write blogs.

How much money do you need to borrow to make your project work? How long do you think you would need to pay that back?
It would depend on which project(s) a lender would be willing to fund. The basement renovation would offer a great deal of potential to my farm operation, and is equally tied to having a milk room that is mobile and sanitary in preparation of commercial operation. The basement renovation allows me to have a living space for a farm hand, manager or intern, as well as giving me a place to put a cool holding tank and a 3 chamber sink.
[Please contact Rochelle or Carol directly for this information.]

Are there other lenders involved in your project or business?: No, I’m just paying as I earn the money, as well as my tax return and any sales I get.

What is your timeline for this project? Would you like it to start in a month? 6 months? A year?: I would like to start in the next month, as I already have 3 does in milk, it’s close to spring and I will need to start mowing in about a month, and I’m opening the new field in two weeks, and will need to carry hay and water to it. It would make my life so much easier. Once I am able to have an extra space to house an occasional intern then I can get more help and fix things faster. I would also have a closed kitchen space that would be more sanitary and separate from the house kitchen, moving me towards a more professional and commercial kitchen.