Lotta Agricultural Fund Expands Criteria, Opening to All UMass Graduates Seeking Loan for Agricultural Activities

AMHERST, Mass. – The Lotta Agricultural Fund, a loan fund established in 1924 in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, is expanding its criteria and making the opportunity to apply for a substantial, no-interest loan to any University of Massachusetts Amherst graduate to support agricultural activities.

The fund was established to provide interest-free loans to Stockbridge graduates to support their agricultural food production enterprises. The fund is now open to any UMass Amherst graduate engaged in agricultural activities, but preference will be given to Stockbridge alumni.

To apply for a loan, applicants should send a letter to the foundation that oversees the fund. The letter should include:

  • Applicant's name, major field of study, and year of graduation from UMass Amherst
  • Size of loan being sought
  • Desired timing for disbursement and payback period (up to 10 years)
  • Your past and current experience related to agricultural production since graduation
  • Name, location, and description of farm or other agricultural business where funds would be used
  • Include size of farm in acres or other appropriate measurements relating to agricultural production
  • Identify operation as retail, wholesale, or both
  • Explain in detail how a loan would be used to improve or expand your operation
  • Provide any additional details you want the Trustees to consider

To be eligible, all loans must be secured by assets of greater value, usually the farm and land itself.

The fund was established with a donation from actress Charlotte “Lotta” Mignon Crabtree, an actress who got her start entertaining miners in Gold Rush camps in California. As her career grew on stages in California and New York, she became known as “The Nation’s Darling,” and is believed to be America’s first superstar. Ignoring the notions of proper etiquette for women in her time, she offered a bawdy style of entertainment, much like Mae West, whom she later influenced. Her promotional photos show her smoking thick cigarillos and wearing men’s clothing. She never married and earned great wealth through her work, purchased land in multiple states and curated philanthropical funds for the social good.

Before her death in 1924, she established several charitable funds, including the Lotta Agricultural Fund at Stockbridge. More information about applying for a loan can be found at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture website. The website includes a contact form for applicants’ questions.