Lending Successful

Farm-Stay Upgrades

by Studio Hill
Farm-Stay Upgrades

Studio Hill is adding additional amenities to allow them to bring more guests onto the land to see Holistic Planned Grazing regenerate the ecosystem.

Project Summary
  • Location: Shaftsbury, VT
  • Products: Livestock Poultry Perennial Crops
  • Loan Term: 84 months
  • Interest Rate: 7.50% APR
  • Repayments Begin: 1 month after disbursement
100% of $165,000

Funded on 02/28/2023


Studio Hill co-owners, Caroline and Jesse McDougall, work every day to build abundance, diversity, and resilience on their 4th-generation family-run farm in rural southwestern Vermont. Working to restore 350 acres of degraded land, they raise sheep and poultry on pasture, use no-till gardens for annual food and pollinator-friendly flower production, and are a Savory Institute Global Network Hub—charged with serving as an example of proven ecological regeneration through Holistic Management. 

In addition to rebuilding the land's soil ecosystem, they also run a thriving farm-stay program with bookings out to 2024. Studio Hill is further expanding their farm-stay capacity to provide more opportunities to share their knowledge and passion for holistically managed regenerative agriculture.

Use of Funds

Studio Hill has learned a lot about running a farm-stay program on their farm since they first started hosting guests in 2017. Over the years they've welcomed hundreds of guests to relax and regenerate on the land. This loan will be used to make some updates to the Hilltop House, to make their guest's stays even more appealing to would-be visitors. Additionally, funds will be used to finish the Cliffside Yurt to increase the number of operating farm-stay units on the property. Studio Hill is building their farm-stay business strategically and are often booking out 12 months in advance in some of their current units.

Regenerative & Sustainable Practices

Studio Hill restores the ecosystem on their land by managing livestock holistically in their permanent perennial polyculture pastures. Their farm employs a number of techniques to revitalize the land, including:

  • Planting pollinator-friendly native plants and keeping bees to support a thriving pollinator habitat.

  • Raising livestock with practices that allow them to express their natural behaviors and feeding them the 100% natural and nutrient-dense grass and forage diet that they are biologically designed to consume.

  • Using holistic management to ensure abundant ecological and, economic benefits.

  • 18kW solar array on-site, with battery backups, as well as plans to expand in the future, with a goal of getting entirely off fossil fuels.

  • No-till gardens are used for annual vegetable and flower production, and a 4-acre perennial food forest is in the works.

  • As a Savory Institute Global Network Hub, they work to educate others on regenerative agriculture and Holistic Management’s potential to improve climate, health, and economic challenges worldwide.

  • An emphasis on climate resiliency for future generations of their family and their community.

Learn more about Studio Hill @ studiohill.farm.

  • February 24, 2023

    Funded In 31 Minutes! Thank You!

    Hello Everybody!

    Every day Cally, our two kids, and I work on this remote piece of land with lofty and long-term goals for the benefit of future generations we'll never meet. It isn't often we get to leave, or go out to "town," or see our friends.

    Of course, we're happy. And we're honored and grateful to be doing this incredibly rewarding work. (Watching the eagles return to our hills is heartwarming...but they're poor conversationalists.) And so, after several years of living this way, we sometimes fall victim to feeling invisible and alone.

    Given that context, I hope you can imagine our awe and overwhelm when into a pretty normal Thursday—of moving sheep and scrubbing toilets—bursts a shower of love, support, and appreciation for our hard work.

    Yesterday, at about 1pm our time, Cally and I received an email from Alissa at Steward letting us know that the participated loan campaign had launched. We looked at each other, and with butterflies in our stomachs, we got back to cleaning the farm stay for incoming guests.

    Thirty minutes later I took a break from cleaning to wipe my brow, wash my hands, and check the campaign's progress—hoping to find a lender or two—only to find 152 lenders and a FULLY FUNDED campaign with several repeat lenders and a shower of heart-warming notes of support.

    It took us by surprise. You took us by surprise. Thank you.

    This will be a big year for Studio Hill! I'm thrilled to say that this new loan will bring big upgrades to the Hilltop House, and bring the Cliffside Yurt online—allowing us to see more of you here!

    But, there are a few other big things in store:

    We've just earned our final accreditation as a Savory Institute Global Network Hub (after being a hub candidate since 2019)—one of only 36 on the globe! As part of our mission as a Hub, we will begin offering courses in ecosystem regeneration through Holistic Management this summer! We hope you'll join us!

    We have teamed up with Sagra—the incredible regenerative farm hospitality company—to help launch their new farm stays management service. In the coming months, Sagra will take our Hilltop House farm stay to the "next level" of hospitality with new on-farm experiences, new marketing, and new amenities—all built specifically to promote and provide education about regenerative agriculture! We are thrilled to help them launch this program. It will mean great things for farmers in our region.

    Finally, we're pleased to announce our first book on climate change and regenerative agriculture will be complete (and hopefully available) this summer. The working title is "The Beginner's Guide to Saving the World: A Regenerative Farmer's Rethinking of Climate Solutions." It is a critical and humorous examination of utter obliteration. Fun! Right?!

    We hope you will stay tuned for all of these exciting ventures this year. And please, if you haven't already, subscribe to our email list on our (newly redesigned) website at https://studiohill.farm.

    We don't have government subsidies. We don't have trust funds. We have you. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

    Thank you for your continued and astounding love and support.

    Jesse & Cally

Hilltop Repairs & Upgrades: $70,000, Updating some key features of the Hilltop House, such as adding an outdoor living area and a finished basement, will increase bookings as well as the nightly rate, and ultimately result in additional cash flow for Studio Hill.

Cliffside Yurt: $20,000, Finishing the Cliffside Yurt will bring one more unit online and increase the number of farm-stay guests.

Interest Reserve: $60,000, Reserving interest for both the original property acquisition loan and for these upgrades will allow Studio Hill to make these improvements and enter the summer months prior to payments, setting them up for success going forward.

Fees & Contingencies: $15,000

Total Budget: $165,000.00

This loan will be made to Studio Hill Farm Stays LLC, a Vermont limited liability company, which offers farm stay experiences on a regeneratively managed ranch. 

This loan will be used to make upgrades to the Hilltop House to increase nightly bookings and to finish the Cliffside Yurt to bring another farm stay unit online in 2023.  This loan is secured by a second mortgage behind Steward’s first mortgage on the properties previously purchased. These improvements will add value to the property. 

This loan is set at a 7.5% interest rate, with a term of 84 months. Interest-only payments will begin 1 month after funds are disbursed.

Borrower Loan Agreement Download
Lender Participation Agreement Download

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