5315 Isham Chambers Rd
Rougemont, NC 27572
Email – click here
How did you hear about Slow Money NC? From fellow farmers, Ben Grimes and David Heeks
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 Samantha Gasson, co-owner and operator of Bull City Farm and I’m a little obsessed with cows. Our farm currently raises Animal Welfare Approved lamb, pork, layers and turkeys. I offer classes, workshops and summer camps focused around farming, cheesemaking and cows. I originally got into farming to raise dairy cows for farmstead cheese making. After 13 years of cows it looks like I am finally realizing a part of that dream. Last Fall NC legalized Cow Shares, opening up a way for small scale dairy farms to make a living.
I am currently set up to milk one cow at a time in one of our stalls under our pole barn. I would like to create a milking area by adding a lean too to the existing structure, a concrete floor, walls, a place to wash equipment and a bulk tank to cool the milk quickly and safely.
Please briefly describe your commitment to sustainable food systems in North Carolina.
Almost all our family’s food comes from within a 50-mile radius of our home. We raise all of our own meat and eggs, drink our own milk, buy/trade locally grown vegetables and fruits and either make our own or buy cheese from local cheese makers, even our baked good are from Durham based businesses. When we go out to eat we support local, independently owned restaurants not chains. In order to thrive as a local business you need to encourage and help foster an environment that sees local as the norm not the exception.
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?:
We plan to sell a share for $100 (we will offer to buy back the share during the first year if needed). There will be a $50/year fee for annual vet checks, hoof trimming, pregnancy checks and renting a bull etc… then a $45/month room and board.
We plan to start with 20 shares sometime in April or May then expand to 75 in June. At 20 shares we will receive a onetime $2,000 in shares and $11,800 yearly in recurring (includes $50 yearly expenses and $45/month room and board) fees. With ~$5,000 (based on real data) in costs per year per cow (feed, labor etc…). That leaves ~$6,000 in profit.
At 75 shares we will receive a one time $7,500 in shares and $43,750 yearly in recurring (includes $50 yearly expenses and $45/month room and board) fees. With ~$15,000 (based on real data) in costs per year per cow (feed, labor etc…). That leaves ~$28,000 in profit.
One cow can handle 15 to 20 shares depending on her lactation cycle. We would need 1 cow for 20 shares and 5-6 for 75 people. We plan on purchasing a cow in milk this month while waiting for our herd of 9 to give birth.
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?: We have borrowed from Carolina Farm Credit and from Farm Bureau for larger purchases of equipment for the farm. The CFC loan was for 1 year and the Farm Bureau was an equipment loan for 5 years. Both loans are paid off. We do not currently have any business loans outstanding.
Do you have people who would vouch for your credit worthiness? Who are they?: Carolyn Rose-Seed
Tell us about your business background. Have you been in business before?: Bull City Farm has officially been in business for 7 years but our farm informally began 15 years ago. I currently sell pasture-raised meats (pork, lamb and turkey) and eggs to restaurants and at the South Durham Farmers’ Market, The Duke Market and at the Durham Roots Farmers’ Market.
I got my first jersey cow 13 years ago and fell in love. Since then I’ve have raised replacement heifers for a local commercial dairy, attended 13 years of dairy shows, devoted a summer camp entirely to jersey cows, taught hundreds of people how to care for cows and even more how to make cheese.
I am well positioned to start a Herd Share with 9 ladies due to give birth in June which means I already have the most expensive and time-consuming part of the project in place. I also have a lot of experience milking and know a lot about cow health and maintenance. I also have regular customers to draw from and am a presence in the Durham farm scene.
I have done my homework and have insurance in place, a mentor (through the Food Animal Concerns Trust’s Mentorship Program) who has a herd share program in Illinois and I’m working on finalizing a contract that the Farm Legal Defense Fund is helping me write.
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? [Please contact Samantha or Carol directly about this.]
Are there other lenders involved in your project or business? No
What is your timeline for this project? Would you like it to start in a month? 6 months? A year?
We would like to start the project this month.
Is there anything else we forgot to ask you?
Nope! Thanks for the opportunity!
Lots more photos here!