"The best method to reduce the cost and expense of living, lies in the intelligent and active promotion of agricultural pursuits."   --Lotta Crabtree


The Lotta Agricultural Fund offers an interest-free loan program for graduates of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


Graduates of the University of Massachusetts Amherst can apply for a substantial 10-year loan at 0% interest.


In 1922 Lotta Crabtree established the Lotta Agricultural Fund.  She wrote, “I believe it is my duty to attempt to aid in some of the great social and economic questions of the times, … the best method to reduce cost and expenses of living, lies in the intelligent and active promotion of agricultural pursuits.”


The Lotta Agricultural Fund was established to make interest-free loans to the Massachusetts Agricultural College (Mass Aggie), which has since grown to become the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The fund now provides interest-free loans, to all UMass Amherst graduates, to support their agricultural food production enterprises.


Email your application to Amanda Brown, amandabrown@umass.edu.  You can also contact Amanda for more information on this program, or with questions about applying to the Lotta Agricultural Fund. To be eligible, you must hold a degree from UMass Amherst. Applications are accepted year-round. To apply, write a letter that includes all of the following information:

  • Applicant's name and year of graduation from UMass Amherst
  • Reason for and 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
  • Provide a business plan and current farm financial information
  • Explain in detail how a loan would be used to improve or expand your operation
  • Information on any previous loans from the Lotta Agricultural Trust
  • Description of assets to secure the loan. To be eligible, all loans must be secured by assets of greater value (usually, the farm and land itself)
  • Provide any additional details you want the Trustees to consider

Email your letter, and any accompanying materials (e.g. photos, brochures) to Amanda Brown at amandabrown@umass.edu. Once your letter is received, the Trustees will make an initial determination of whether to pursue the application further, and will notify each applicant of their decision.


Charlotte Mignon Crabtree, known as "Lotta," was born in 1847, and began her career at the age of six in California, where her parents ran a boarding house during the Gold Rush. Described as a "happy scamp," Lotta entertained miners in their camps, showing talent as a singer, dancer, and banjo player. The miners showered her with gold nuggets and coins as payment. As her career developed, on theater stages in California and New York City, she became known as "The Nation's Darling," and is believed to be America's first "superstar."

Lotta was a revolutionary woman in several ways. Bucking notions of proper etiquette for women, 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. Lotta never married, earned great wealth through independent work, purchased land in multiple states, and curated philanthropical funds for the social good -- all unusual for women of the time.

By her retirement in 1892, she was the wealthiest actress in the United States. She wrote "I believe it is my duty to aid in some of the great social and economic questions of the times." Before her death in 1924, Ms. Crabtree established several charitable funds, including the Lotta Agricultural Fund.