Date: July 27, 2023
Contact: Audrey Schwartzberg, ANCA Communications Officer,, 518.891.6200

Reber Rock Farm Installs Freezer, Expands Sales Capacity with Small Farm Loan
ANCA and Foodshed Capital announce latest SOIL Loan Fund investment

ESSEX, N.Y. The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) and Foodshed Capital have announced that Reber Rock Farm will receive financing support for a freezer project that will improve the farm’s processing and sales capacity. Farmers Racey and Nathan Henderson will use their zero-percent interest loan, provided through ANCA’s SOIL Loan Fund, to install a walk-in freezer — an improvement that will allow them to double their poultry production and increase sales of their pasture-raised organic meats.

The investment marks the third small farm project supported by the SOIL Loan Fund, which ANCA developed to address the challenges many North Country farms have accessing capital through conventional programs — particularly for farms operated by women and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).

“Reber Rock’s expansion is exactly the kind of work that the SOIL Loan program was designed to fund. Their clear vision, attention to detail, and commitment to humane, pasture-raised organic livestock made this a project that we are excited to support,” said Adam Dewbury, ANCA Local Food System Program Director. 

Reber Rock Farm produces organic, pastured poultry and beef, as well as maple syrup and eggs, on 120 acres near Essex, N.Y. With recent growth of retail and wholesale markets for their meat products in the Champlain Valley, Adirondack Park and locations throughout the northeastern U.S., the Hendersons found their meat production and sales were limited by insufficient storage space. 

“We farm because we believe in health. We want customers across the country to have the option to purchase food that is healthy for the animals, humans and ecosystems needed to produce it,” said Racey Henderson. “We want to offer a choice to buy meat from animals that not just allows — but also encourages — expression of their natural tendencies to eat bugs and grass, drink from puddles and nibble on shrubs. But our capacity to produce this kind of high-quality meat has been limited by our ability to store it.” 

Henderson explained that in northern New York’s cold climate, the production season for pastured poultry is short — lasting from mid-May to the end of October — and requires significant freezer storage to meet customers’ needs year round. The farm will use its SOIL Loan to replace multiple current freezers with one large single-unit freezer. The upgrade will increase the farm’s storage and organizational space, improve efficiency for staff who prepare meat orders, and reduce energy costs.

“This freezer will make a real difference in terms of cost savings and sales potential,” said Henderson. “We’re grateful to ANCA and Foodshed for supporting the project and our farm’s mission to produce pasture-raised organic food in a way that provides benefits of healthy humans, animals and ecosystems beyond the borders of our farm.”

ANCA, a regional economic nonprofit that serves businesses and communities in northern New York, partnered with Foodshed Capital, a certified Community Development Financial Institution that centers mission-driven lending and customized business support for underserved farmers, to launch its SOIL Loan Fund in 2022 in response to expressed financing needs of North Country farmers.

Sustainability goes beyond management practices. Foodshed Capital is always happy to support regenerative farmers who are looking to make their businesses work better,” said Erica Hellen, Foodshed Capital’s Director of Strategy and Development. “Reber Rock demonstrated that their loan funds will be spent on strategic investments that will make their business more efficient and more viable for the long run, and we’re so pleased that their expansion will make pastured meats more accessible for those in the North Country region.” 

Capital to launch the first phase of the loan program came from private donations as well as grants from Adirondack Bank, Adirondack Foundation’s Generous Acts Fund, the Glen and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Fund, Price Chopper’s Golub Foundation and NBT Bank.

The first SOIL Loan was awarded to Julian Mangano of Della Terra Farm in Castorland, N.Y. in September 2022. Mangano is using the loan to develop a commercial composting operation to divert organic waste from landfills, build soil health on his farm, and provide compost for local farms and gardens.

Donahue’s Livestock Farms in North Bangor, N.Y. received a loan in May 2023 for renovating and purchasing equipment for a specialty butcher shop. The retail operation will complement the farm’s existing wholesale markets, allowing the Donahues to sell directly to more local customers including participants in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

ANCA is an independent, nonprofit corporation with a transformational approach to building prosperity across northern New York. Using innovative strategies for food systems, clean energy, small businesses, and equity and inclusion, ANCA delivers targeted interventions that create and sustain wealth and value in local communities. 

Foodshed Capital is a certified Community Development Financial Institution dedicated to building more equitable, regenerative foodsheds through mission-driven lending and customized business support. FoodCap serves regenerative farmers and food entrepreneurs up and down the East Coast with a focus on BIPOC- and female-led operations.

Photo by Ben Carmichael courtesy of Reber Rock Farm: Racey and Nathan Henderson will install a new walk-in freezer at Reber Rock Farm utilizing funds secured through ANCA’s SOIL Loan Fund.