EAST LANSING, Mich., April 30, - Two members of the Farm Credit System – GreenStone Farm Credit Services and AgriBank – have taken a significant step in their commitment to non-traditional urban agriculture through a newly announced partnership with Hantz Farms in Detroit. GreenStone's board of directors and executive management team, as well as representatives from AgriBank, recently visited the Hantz Farms site on the city's eastside to meet with the farm's leadership team and neighborhood residents.
The partnership is a natural fit for both GreenStone and AgriBank. As members of the Farm Credit System, each organization is dedicated to a mission of providing sound and dependable credit to American farmers, regardless of size or location. Through this partnership, GreenStone will engage and educate young, beginning and small producers in an emerging urban market about the financing opportunities available to producers through the Farm Credit System.
"GreenStone is a vital part of the agriculture community in Michigan and Wisconsin, and engaging with urban agriculture is important for us to understand and serve the entire breadth of the agricultural industry," said GreenStone president and CEO,Dave Armstrong. "It is important for GreenStone to evaluate and establish viable lending programs tailored to this emerging market. We look forward to collaborating with both Hantz Farms and AgriBank to maximize the success of our partnership."
"Big or small, urban or rural, Farm Credit supports all agriculture," said Bill York, AgriBank CEO. "American agriculture plays an important role in our economy and in our daily lives. Hantz Farms shows the power that agriculture can have to bring people together and strengthen communities."
Left to right: Scott Roggenbuck, chairman of GreenStone’s board of Directors, Dave Armstrong, president and CEO of Greenstone, and Vicki Hicks, vice president of government affairs for AgriBank, look on as Hantz Farms President Mike Score and Hantz Group President and CEO John Hantz review a site map for Hantz Farms.
John Hantz, a Detroit resident and founder, president and CEO of the Hantz Group, began working with city leaders in 2009 to make his dream for the world's largest urban farm a reality. First met with skepticism, Hantz successfully worked with the city to acquire 1,700 vacant lots. Now, Hantz and his team led by Hantz Farms president Mike Score, are working to transform a one-square-mile area on the city's eastside by removing residential garbage and blighted structures. Following successful clean-up of a portion of the area, Hantz plans to host a day of community service on May 17 and will plant some 15,000 mixed-hardwood trees transforming the area into a woodland for the enjoyment of area residents.
"We are delighted that GreenStone and AgriBank have decided to partner with us to help make this Detroit neighborhood a better place to live, work and play. We share a philosophy and values that translate into utilizing and repurposing vacant land to nurture, sustain and improve living conditions. As urban farming takes on a life of its own, these companies will help lead the effort to enrich our changing environment. We are very proud to be associated with them and welcome them to our development," Hantz said.
As a mission-based organization, service to agriculture is fundamental to Farm Credit. GreenStone has a well-established reputation as a business focused on giving back to the local communities it serves. In 2013, the organization's employees spent more than 4,000 hours volunteering their time on behalf of a variety of causes. The partnership with Hantz Farms will provide an additional opportunity for GreenStone employees to get involved in community service when many of the cooperative's employees assist in planting 4,350 of the trees near the corner of Mack Avenue and McClellan Street on May 17.
"Our employees are committed to making a positive impact on communities. With the help of GreenStone and AgriBank, Hantz Farms will continue to improve the quality of life for local Detroit residents through the cleanup and beautification of neighborhood land," Armstrong said.
AgriBank is one of the largest banks within the national Farm Credit System, with more than $85 billion in total assets. Under the Farm Credit System's cooperative structure, AgriBank is owned by GreenStone and 16 other affiliated Farm Credit Associations. The AgriBank District covers America’s Midwest, a 15-state area stretching from Wyoming to Ohio and Minnesota to Arkansas. More than half of the nation's cropland is located within the AgriBank District, providing the Bank and its Association owners with exceptional expertise in production agriculture. For more information, visit www.AgriBank.com.
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