This is a business owner who has reached out to Slow Money NC.
How did you hear about Slow Money NC?:
I met Carol several years ago through her husband Mark Hewitt. That was the first time I heard of Slow Money but honestly, forgot until I was reminded in a recent newsletter from CSA. Timeliness was perfect as I have started a farming business.
Tell us your story. What is your business idea? Tell us your plan.
I started Green Heffa Farms in 2018, originally as a monoculture hemp farm. We have since expanded to be a medicinal plant and hemp farm in Liberty, NC on the Chatham County side. I am known as Cee by family and friends and “Farmer Cee” in the farming world. I am a fifth generation farm but did not set out in life to follow on my family’s agrarian path. Matter of fact, I ran from it. But life happens and in 2018, found myself with a farm and in 2019, found myself running it without a partner.
I am one of the first black women to be licensed to grow hemp in North Carolina, and one of fewer actually doing it. In 2019, I was selected as the Featured Farmer for Hemp History Week, the nation’s largest grassroots campaign for the federal legalization of industrial hemp. Since then, I have been featured in more than 200 national and international publications, and speak regularly at state and national conferences. I now run the farm with my adult daughters, two son-in-laws, and my teenage son. Our farm has four guiding principles: Economic empowerment, Equity, Environmental stewardship, and Education.
Green Heffa Farms is one of very few black-owned farms in Chatham County and perhaps the only that is led by a black woman. Transitioning to organic, it will also be another rarity – a minority woman owned USDA certified organic farm. The farm is committed to best practices in regenerative agriculture. It seeks to create a learning lab where aspiring and current farmers can gain critical skills in boutique hemp and medicinal plant cultivation, production, and needed business skills. Green Heffa Farms hopes to increase the number of socially and ecologically conscious farmers, with a focus on underrepresented populations.
Please briefly describe your commitment to sustainable food systems in North Carolina.:
I am currently a senior principal gifts officer at The Nature Conservancy’s World Office, the first Black American to hold this title at the world’s largest environmental organization. In this role, I manage a global portfolio of philanthropists who are interested in achieving conservation outcomes. Some of these donors do support programs in NC. I am personally committed to sustainable food systems in general because of how I was raised on the farm. Our farm will not only be a production farm, but a teaching farm where we seek to help level the planting field and make sustainable food production more accessible.
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 recently did a pre-order for our first product in our hemp and herbal tea blends line. We did not use any paid advertising as we are looking to test the market. We made over $1200 in a two week period on this product alone. I (Cee) will be featured in this month’s O magazine for my work in agriculture equity which we will use to implement our first round of paid advertisement. We recently purchased a 150 year old cabin that will become the cornerstone of a new agritourism program. We also have a digital course that we are revamping for sale. It is a $39/month subscription. Additionally, all members of our family still maintain outside employment and can assist with repayment, if necessary.
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 assumed a mortgage for the land. I borrowed $68K and still owe $55K. However, I make payments from my personal income, not the farm’s.
Do you have people who would vouch for your credit worthiness? Who are they?: Yes. In addition to having a strong credit score, I am also a board member at Triangle Land Conservancy and VAE Raleigh, and have served on several nonprofit and public boards previously. I am a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) which requires that I maintain a reputation of strong ethics and integrity.
Tell us about your business background. Have you been in business before?:
I earned a bachelors in marketing from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a masters degree in education from Troy University. In 2016, I was selected by my peers as the 2016 Association for Fundraising Professionals, Triangle Chapter Fundraiser of the Year and in 2017, received the C-Suite Award for Nonprofit Leadership. I also earned the coveted Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation. I currently live in Cary, NC, with a teenage son and three unsuccessful farm dogs.
Are there other lenders involved in your project or business?:
The only other lender is AgCarolina Farm Credit, which holds a mortgage on the land.
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 in a month.
Lots more photos here!