Small Business Success Spotlight on Birch Creek Farmery for Women's Business Month

November 3, 2023

Founded on the principles of hard work, sustainability and respect for the animals and land, Birch Creek Farmery is Pittsburgh’s source for premium, heritage meats. It all started more than a century ago in 1922, when owner Teddi Lombardi's great grandparents purchased the land to start a dairy farm. Now, more than 100 years later, Teddi and her family have transformed the land into a 1400-acre heritage meat farm which aims to go beyond raising cuts of meat by raising animals that can sustainably and ethically be used in full towards the nourishment of the community.

One of the primary challenges Teddi faced when expanding existing operations and starting Birch Creek Farmery was a lack of capital. Farming typically requires substantial capital investment and farmers like Teddi often face a three-year cash gap for beef.
Furthermore, decreased access to capital has proven an ongoing challenge for many women business owners. For example, while funding for female co-founded companies has been on the rise, women-owned startups accounted for just 1.9% of venture capital funding in 2022. Additionally, women small business owners are 18% less likely to get bank loans approved.

It’s important to note that these statistics don’t align with the performance of women-owned businesses as the average earnings for women-owned businesses increased by 27% in 2022. But capital is often required for such growth. Business financing is key to not just starting companies, but also ensuring their expansion and success.

Northwest Banks is committed to closing the gender gap in funding and helping support women-owned businesses like Birch Creek Farmery. This is what Teddi experienced when she worked with members of the bank’s SBA lending team to secure a $876k term loan and a $50k line of credit.

SBA loans are often a good choice for startup founders or first-time small business owners. They provide competitive interest rates, longer repayment periods and ample working capital. In addition, business owners can take advantage of SBA programs designed with specific needs in mind, like loans for business acquisitions, express loans for working capital and micro-loans to help small businesses get started.

Birch Creek Farmery used the SBA funds to expand the existing farm and improve operating efficiencies. This included building new barns instead of roundups, which provide a better environment for the animals by centralizing feeding and providing dry bedding. Teddi also used these funds to purchase new equipment including trucks, trailers, feed grinders, bins and more.

Looking forward, Teddi plans to continue Birch Creek Farmery’s growth by purchasing additional land and incorporating other local farms. Birch Creek Farmery also hopes to expand processing and distribution to Washington D.C., New York and Ohio. Access to funding from Northwest Bank is making this growth a reality for Teddi’s business.

“Northwest has been a true partner to Birch Creek Farmery,” said Lombardi. “Through providing the capital necessary to expand the farm, Northwest has not only supported my small business but also served the greater community by enabling access to ethically and sustainably raised heritage meats—an option that might not have been available to community members previously.”

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