At Self-Help, we seek ways to fund small businesses, increase access to fresh food, and boost financial opportunities in rural communities. So when a potential borrower accomplishes all three of these goals with one enterprise, it gets our attention. We’re pleased to announce that we recently closed a $150,000 Small Business Administration (SBA) loan with Seal the Seasons, a small business created by entrepreneur Patrick Mateer.
Seal the Seasons is a frozen food company based in Hillsborough, North Carolina—but this isn’t factory-farm generic frozen food. Seal the Seasons gets produce from local farmers who have a surplus to sell. The result is a new sales channel for local farmers, and more access to local broccoli, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries for families in North Carolina, year-round.
CEO Patrick Mateer came up with the idea for Seal the Seasons when he noticed a disconnect between supply and demand for local fruits and vegetables. “I saw local farmers who weren’t able to sell all the food they produced. A lot of people want to buy local, but many items are only available during certain months of the year.”
Seal the Seasons aims to collaborate with sustainable family farms, giving priority to farmers with under 179 acres. They work with farmers to grow enough food for the entire next calendar year, and this helps quadruple farmers’ marketable produce per growing season. To extend its mission even further, Seal the Seasons has pledged to donate 20% of its net profits (in cash, product and/or labor) to organizations working to bring more healthy foods to underserved communities.
Recently we had the pleasure of visiting Patrick Mateer on a day when Seal the Seasons workers were chopping, blanching and freezing broccoli. Click on the video above to meet Patrick and see the Seal the Seasons process in action.