"I know my money will be there when I need it. But for now, the Loan Fund is allowing me to share opportunities, to turn my assets into opportunities for more Vermonters."
For mother and son Dawn Andrews and Jonah Bourne, investing with VCLF was a natural outgrowth of their outlook on sharing resources, spreading the wealth and helping provide access to opportunity.
Andrews, herself a native Vermonter, raised her two sons Jonah and Levi Bourne in the state, moving them to a rental farm property in Morrisville after her divorce. It was there that she and Jonah both cultivated – along with garden-variety veggies, flowers, chickens and sheep – a passion for agriculture and the land.As the years progressed, Levi joined his father's business – Bourne's Energy - while Jonah ventured out to California to work the land and gain experience in farming and food entrepreneurship. In 2008 he was ready to return and bring it all back home. "It felt healthy and it felt good for the world to be farming and raising healthy food," Bourne says.
Passion, dedication and hard work became Bourne's first venture – Woodbelly Pizza in 2008. Bourne and his Woodbelly business partner Jeremiah Church grew organic crops from which they made artisanal, wood-fired pizzas, while mom Andrews did the books and kept an eye on the bottom line.
In 2010, Andrews found – via Craigslist – the farm property she and her son had been dreaming of. In 2014, Bourne sold his interest in Woodbelly to a cooperative and mother and son went full steam ahead with Provender Farm in Cabot, a 160-acre parcel dating back to the early 1800s, with original 19th century farmhouse, a Gothic style cottage, yurt, organic gardens, orchards, topiary gardens, sugar bush, shitake mushroom operation, and various animals that provide labor, fertilizer, eggs and meat.
Provender sells to organic wholesaler Deeproot Farms, which retails to local coops, markets and CSA share operations. Friends of Bourne's who were also interested in Vermont farming and food entrepreneurship came on board to form a cooperative farm incubator of sorts, raising their own crops (one of them raises over 300 geese for eggs and meat) and living communally in the large farmhouse while Andrews occupies the cottage and manages the finance and books.
In that thriving and fertile place, mother and son's enthusiasm for investing in Vermont and its local communities began to grow. And grow.
"Jonah he couldn't borrow money because he didn't have a credit rating," Andrews says. "His assets came from hard work and dedication." And, mother and son now both in possession of those valuable assets, began to think further.
"I wasn't interested into something that didn't do good in the world. In something that did damage," added Bourne. "And I knew I wanted my money to stay in Vermont."
Ideas really took root when Andrews began to learn more about VCLF. Noting the need for lending capital among Vermont farmers, other entrepreneurs, nonprofits and more, coupled with a growing interest in "doing something morally comfortable with our money", "we thought – how do we manage our assets so they do good in the world?"
The mutually agreed upon answer: "We wanted to reinvest in our community because it's good for all of us," says Andrews.
Now, both mother and son have investments in the Loan Fund.
"We're not in it to get the biggest return, but to make a difference," Andrews says.
"The Loan Fund is so good at helping folks with capital in Vermont," Bourne says. "I know my money will be there when I need it. But for now, the Loan Fund is allowing me to share opportunities, to turn my assets into opportunities for more Vermonters," he says.