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HVADC Client Update: Ardith Mae Farmstead Goat Cheese

Jun 2, 2023

Moving a farm is never easy.

When Shereen Alinaghian needed to move off leased land and finally own her own property in Stuyvesant New York, to raise her herd and produce her beloved Ardith Mae goat cheese, she found the process and expense nearly impossible.


Even after years of financial success, Alinaghian, a graduate of the HVADC’s 2020 Farm and Food Funding Accelerator program (FFFA), just couldn’t find a lender willing to take on a mortgage for her new farm without requiring 20-25% down. She says she also found aid packages from entities like the USDA difficult to access fast enough to help in a fast-moving real estate market.


Alinaghian says that while she was able to acquire the loan she needed this past winter, she was only able to do so because of connections and Business Technical Assistance (BTA) she’s received from HVADC. Alinaghian has been working with long time HVADC consultant, business advisor Brian Zweig, for nearly ten years, crafting strong business plans, grant proposals, and airtight books.


“Without Brian’s help I wouldn’t have survived,” she said. “I would have had to sell my business. It was incredible too, because the last couple years our business has been doing really, really well. We have great markets, our financials are in order and I still didn’t think we would get a loan.”


Even in her strong position, lender after lender couldn’t offer a realistic deal. Finally, Zweig and Columbia Economic Development Corporation Vice President of Business Development Martha Lane were able to connect Alinaghian with John King, a senior lender at Pursuit Lending, who secured a deal with that allowed Alinaghian to buy the new property and make needed upgrades and improvements.


Alinaghian said that while she is pleased that the process has found a happy conclusion, it has made her concerned for the future of younger farmers looking to secure their own future and own land. “It was unsettling to think what the next generation of farmers will have to go through to do this,” She said.


Now that she is getting settled into her new property, Alinaghian is making new plans for the future of the site, looking to build a store and incorporate agritourism into her portfolio with a potential farm-stay. She also wants to pay it forward. Ardith Mae was able to purchase a transportation van with past help from HVADC and she now wants to use that van to help other farms bring product down to New York City markets.


“Whenever I meet a farmer who is struggling through the business side of things, I always tell them, ‘you should talk to HVADC.’” She said. “I went through the (FFFA) with them and it really supported me on so many levels. Creating a pitch for my business plan really helped me organize my brain. It gave me a lot of exposure and established (Ardith Mae) in the industry.”


Zweig said Alinaghian’s best trait as a businessperson is her willingness to learn and accept help. In just a few years her openness to coaching took her from a business novice to a place where she can now be a role model to others.


“Shereen is really a success story,” Zweig said. “She went from a great farmer, with an amazing product, who didn’t really know the business side of things – to being really astute and savvy. I’m proud of how she’s fought through all her challenges and come out in a really solid position moving forward.”


To learn more about the BTA that HVADC provides to farmers and food producers, visit

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