“I got the money! I wouldn't have been able to do it on my own. FBC was fabulous, holding my hand all the way through.”
Paul and Lorraine Irwin are organic farmers. Like so many growers during the pandemic, they couldn't get their product processed because of province-wide shutdowns.
Through our REBOOT COVID Recovery program, we helped Paul secure a Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan for $40,000. The funds helped free-up his cash flow and allowed him to transform his business. Paul admits he wouldn't have had the time or patience to apply for the loan himself.
"I got the money! I couldn't have done it on my own. FBC was fabulous, holding my hand all the way through," Paul said.
2020 changed everything for Paul and Lorraine Irwin, the owner/operators of Boars Rock Farm and Pure Music Garlic. In April 2020, concerts, festivals and other events were cancelled as the provincial government banned gatherings of more than five people to slow the spread of the virus.
Paul watched their main source of revenue take a substantial hit: "As the events slowly started disappearing it was like, 'Oh crap, what are we going to do now?'"
Paul and Lorraine managed to find a stall at a few farmer's markets in the summer - but the revenue just didn't compare to what they'd normally make during the festival season. "The impact of not being able to go to events is astronomical," Paul said.
"Festival season in Ontario was where we made 95% of our sales. The impact of not being able to go to events is astronomical."
That wasn't the only problem - all commercial kitchens in the area were shut down. The garlic had nowhere to go. Paul bought an insulated truck body to store their plants. He even had to put in a heater so the plants didn't freeze in the winter.
With no place to process their garlic and few places to sell it, the Irwins faced a crisis. Paul knew they needed to act fast to transform their business for the future.
BEHIND THE NAME
While inspecting the farmland before purchase, Paul hopped on a large boulder and was reminded of visiting "The Boars Rock" in Scotland, an ancient rallying point for the Clan MacLaren. He christened the farmland Boars Rock Farm - the rallying place for their family farming future.
Paul read about a loan opportunity in our Member newsletter. He learned the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides interest free loans to small business owners.
His Local Tax Consultant shared information about our REBOOT program, through which we apply to government support programs on a Member's behalf. Paul didn't hesitate to sign up, knowing it would take away the headache of applying and free up his time: "It was like, oh, all right! I'm in! Paperwork's not my forte."
FBC helped him file the paperwork required, and ensured the application was completed accurately and submitted quickly so Paul could get the cash in his hands.
Paul secured a $40,000 CEBA loan and was able to pay his bills, freeing up the cash flow to allow Paul and Lorraine to start building their commercial kitchen for on-site processing of their garlic.
"FBC made it simple, and that to me is astronomical because I don't mind getting the dirt under my fingernails, but putting the pen to paper and having to read some documents is not my forte."
"You don't have to be a big industrial farmer to be part of FBC," Paul said. "You don't have to be farming tens of thousands of acres. You could be like myself - a small certified organic garlic farmer."
The Road Ahead
The Boars Rock farm commercial kitchen is currently under construction. Once it's finished, all garlic processing will be done right on the farm. But that's not their only plan for growth.
While they currently offer farm tours, they also plan to host cooking classes. In the future, visitors will learn about their garlic and how to cook with their products, on the same land the garlic grows.
"Agro-tourism is going to become huge in the future," said Paul. "It's an evolution we are seeing moving forward."
Paul wants other farmers to know that FBC has solutions for farms of all sizes. "You don't have to be a big industrial farmer to be part of FBC," Paul said. "You don't have to be farming tens of thousands of acres. You could be like myself - a small certified organic garlic farmer."