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  • CEI Helps Local Flower Farm Blossom

    Feb 8, 2016 by

    Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is a Maine-based CDC that has made loans and investments, and provided business advisory services to people and businesses in Maine and New England since 1977.[1] CEI is unique in its holistic approach to addressing the multifaceted challenges of poverty alleviation, rural development and environmental sustainability. Little River Flower Farm is a recent example of a project that meets CEI’s triple bottom line.

    Photo courtesy of CEI

    Photo courtesy of CEI

    Little River Flower Farm grows and produces Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) certified flowers.  The issue that Little River Flower Farm faced before partnering with CEI was that they could not grow their flowers year-round due to Maine’s climate.  In order to grow year-round, the owners of Little River Flower Farm, Bruce and Nancy Stedman, invested in an ArchSolar integrated solar greenhouse. The greenhouse features flexible solar panels integrated into the glazing, supplemental lighting and heat storage systems, making it not only economically sustainable but also environmentally sustainable. CEI was able to finance the deal between the Little River Flower Farm and Archsolar with a loan of $480,000, including a $200,000 participation by CEI Investment Notes, Inc.[2]

    The challenge of year-round production is not unique to Little River Flower Farm. ArchSolar founder Tony Keiffer notes that, “One challenge of helping small farms scale production and adopt year round agriculture is capital. CEI is filling that need for capital, allowing farmers to increase their margins and contribute to regional food systems more predictably and with better returns.”[3]  Thanks to projects like this one, the work of CDCs is gaining more currency across the country.

    [1] http://www.ceimaine.org/about/cei-history/

    [2] http://www.ceimaine.org/about/cei-stories/little-river-flower-farm/.

    [3] http://www.ceimaine.org/about/cei-stories/little-river-flower-farm/.

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