The Mahoning County-based agricultural non-profit, Goodness Grows, proposes to lead in the development of a 1000 acre NE Ohio network of diversified specialty crop farms that would create 150 to 250 new jobs for the unemployed and underemployed (including adults with disabilities).  Annual sales would reach $6 to 10 million, with an economic impact of $12 to $20 million per year (OSU). We will assist in the necessary training by using a new Pell-grant eligible Specialty Crop Growers certificate course designed by OSU and sponsored and further developed by Lorain Community College. As a part of the training, students will spend 4,000 hours as paid apprentices. Upon completion of the program, graduates will have the option to join a newly-formed farmer’s co-op, which will develop branding, secure markets, leverage group purchasing power, enable insurance coverage, share equipment, and help with land acquisition. Goodness Grows will leverage its reputation and connections within the larger community (especially within the faith community) to gain access to land at an overall reduced cost. Already, we have pledges of further business planning support from OSU Extension, The Collaboration Business Center (Walsh University School of Business) and the Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization (Walsh Chapter), and individuals doing economic development in the food system context. We are looking for additional partners to help move this project forward. Contact Steve Fortenberry at 330.507.8951 or for more information.

Proposed Location

7266 Hayes Orangeville Rd NE Burghill, OH 44404


Public - accessible to all site users

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Value Proposition

<p>We will be producing a variety of specialty crops.</p><p>We have strong ties to our local farmer&#39;s co-op, which is developing markets. While that market gains in strength, we have a pledge from DNO Produce to purchase whatever we produce. Even while that sounds like a great offer, we will be working on other outlets.</p><p>In our case, we are not just growing produce, but we are creating jobs for the socially disadvantaged in our area, as well as helping to make our regional food system healthier and more resilient.</p>


<p>This is a major project with all kinds of working groups needed.</p><ol><li><strong>Financing</strong>. We are looking into the best way raise the required capital. Currently, we are looking at a L3C model. If this is the route we go, it will require legal and financial expertise.</li><li><strong>Land Acquisition</strong>. Currently, we have access to 45 acres and have informal offers of land totaling another 60 acres. Because of several key partnerships with very well known NGO&#39;s in the Mahoning Valley, we believe that if we advertised a need for land, many more acres would become available. In some cases, we foresee people willing to lease land to us at below-market rates. In other cases, we believe people will offer to give us the land. We will look to existing models of land leasing regarding the former, but will look at working with existing land trusts regarding the latter. We think that we could acquire more land, if we had a land trust specifically identified as faith-based, one in which guaranteed proper land stewardship while creating economic opportunity to those in greatest need.</li><li><strong>Equipment</strong>. Currently, we have very little equipment and will need to make large investments in tractors, implements, and other support equipment.</li><li><strong>Land Assessment</strong>. At this writing, we have a new farm manager assessing our acreage and beginning to make growing plans for 2013. Since his salary is covered for 2013, he will focus on making the fields ready for production in 2014.</li><li><strong>Farmers</strong>. While we have one full-time farmer, we will quickly need more. Related to that, our church camp will serve as an incubator farm. Hopefully, we will have some trainees this year, but definitely so for 2014.</li><li><strong>Marketing</strong>. We see this as more than a business: we see it as a social movement, harnessing and aligning the goodwill and interests of a wide range of stakeholders. A major key to the success of the whole venture will be getting this community support. With that in mind, we hope to engage the services of a media agency to help us with branding and outreach.</li></ol>


<p>Besides equipment needs, at first we will be dependent upon greenhouses to supply us with starts. Other than that, we will need the wide range of supplies that any produce grower would need.</p>

Required Resources

<p>At this point, Steve Fortenberry is the one leading this effort. Growing expertise is being provided by Brad Bergefurd, James Walawender, and we have some leads on another person who is considered an expert in the sustainable agriculture field.</p><p>For business planning, besides Brad, Tom Snyder, Joe Bute, Dr. Michelle Spain, and Sam Rose have committed to help.</p><p>For financial advise, Joe Bute and Dr. Michelle Spain will again be assisting. Perhaps Wade Hampton (banker) will also help.</p>

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Whitmore's BBQ

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Director of Market Development


Founded in 1972, BFG Supply has a long history of serving the Green Industry including professional growers, lawn & garden centers, landscapers, and indoor growing stores.

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