Partnering to Make An Impact
One of the core aspects of using a regenerative development approach is building reciprocal partnerships that benefit the entire community. To that end, we are hoping to leverage the resort’s demand for products and services into broader regional initiatives, who’s impact extends beyond our property borders. We’ve identified four major areas for this endeavor, and wanted to share our progress to date.
Agriculture: Create a new distribution channel for authentic food from local farmers to fill demand for guests both at our resort and after they return home.
We’ve had initial conversations with several local farmers and aggregators including Polyface Farms, 4P Foods and The Local Food Hub about how we can source as much of our food locally as possible. We’ve also been discussing ways we can connect guests to these same local foods once they leave our resort, thus creating an additional market opportunity beyond our borders for local farmers. Our plan is to facilitate the creation of a network of farmers, organized under several aggregators, to serve these two purposes.
Environment: Implement a master test-and-learn plan with key partners to improve Shenandoah’s natural habitat and our local climate.
We held a site tour with folks from the Department of Forestry and the Virginia Tech Extension Office to discuss opportunities for partnership around forest management, invasive species management and innovative timber harvest practices. We plan to educate guests around various timber harvest methods using the Dept of Forestry test site adjacent to our property and on-site horse logging demonstrations. We’ve also had initial conversations with the American Chestnut Foundation to roll out a large-scale planting and living laboratory on-site. Finally, we plan to use integrated carbon sequestration methods to remove carbon from the air and waste stream and return it to the soil, thus creating a virtuous cycle that impacts local weather patterns. We are focusing initial efforts on biochar and creating a local industry around those practices.
Livelihood: Create economically sustainable career paths where individuals can align with their innate talents and calling.
We’ve started building relationships with the hospitality programs at James Madison University and Virginia Tech and plan on partnering with them on their job fairs, internship programs and guest lecture opportunities. We’ve started planning efforts around our staffing needs, and our requirements are larger and more diverse than originally anticipated. We look forward to sharing opportunities with the community in the future and recruiting locally whenever possible.
Wellness: Identify and facilitate place-based recreational alternatives, including both educational and experiential components, that take advantage of the natural environment while reinforcing wellness and having fun.
We recently presented to the tourism board about our progress and vision for cross and co-promotion opportunities with local attractions. We envision helping guests find local alternatives, using profile-based marketing for art lovers, foodies, historians, nature enthusiasts, adventure junkies, etc. We’ve also been in discussions to potentially restore the Hupps Hill and the Half Moon Beach to benefit the community and provide tourism alternatives for the area.
Moving forward, we are open to exploring innovative local entrepreneurial proposals to add even more vitality, viability and place-sourced resilience to our relationships within the community. We would love to hear from you and thanks so much!
Heather and Mike