Galen Iverstine’s introduction to the impact of the industrialized food system led him to explore alternatives capable of restoring America’s small scale farm economies. After completing an internship on a farm in New Hampshire, Galen and his father Jack purchased 65 acres in St. Helena Parish in Kentwood, LA. When Galen secured a house on the property and two pigs, Iverstine Family Farms was born. After “retiring” from their respective careers, Jack and Brenda Iverstine, have worked together to start seven different businesses. So when Galen pitched the idea of Iverstine Family Farms to his parents, they were excited to reconnect with their family’s agricultural roots. They provided the initial funding and Brenda helps manage the farm finances. Through several land purchases, the Iverstines expanded the farm to 130 acres, and in 2016 they started Iverstine Farms Butcher in Baton Rouge—the city’s only whole animal butcher. Owning and operating their own smokehouse and butcher allows IFF to manage all elements of production and eliminate costly middlemen.
Reason for Loan
With 130 acres of land and a strong infrastructure in place to get their products to market, the Iverstines were set up for success. However, “Our struggle for the last two years,” Galen describes, “is our fixed costs are the same whether we’re running 10 cows or 100 cows.” Financing from Steward was used to purchase more livestock to populate those pastures as well as invest in additional infrastructure to support increased production—new fencing, poultry processing equipment, and refrigeration.“Steward is allowing us to pull equity out of land in order to get the farm firing on all cylinders,” Galen explains.
Current inspection requirements limit the amount of wholesaling IFF can do. In the future, they hope to develop another facility that would meet inspection requirements for wholesaling to restaurants and grocers. This facility would provide a welcome opportunity to co-op with other regenerative farms. Individually these farms do not operate on a large enough scale to supply grocery stores, but under a collaborative label they would together be able to meet supply chain needs. Iverstine Family Farms also recently started a subscription service which includes home delivery, a large revenue generator that was supported by Steward funds.