Stephanie Van De Ven is providing guests with a special, small-town experience at the Country Spirit Wellness Farm outside of Paris.
The property started as a dream for Van De Ven, who grew up on a farm with horses and growing tobacco.
“I was working for a wonderful real estate agent in Brantford when she told me we needed to promote a new farm listing,” she said. “My ears perked up immediately and as soon as I saw it, I fell in love. I took my son with me and as we were standing up in the loft that overlooks the fields the sunset came through the windows and made the whole room glow. I got goosebumps, started crying and told my son that we were going to call it ‘Country Spirit,’”
Within weeks, Van De Ven fixed up her old house and got it sold so she could purchase her dream property in January. She began renovating the house to make it a welcome space for Airbnb guests.
The name was inspired by her horse, Spirit. Van De Ven works with Spirit and clients in equine mindfulness, which is one of the services she offers on the property.
“There’s something here for everyone wanting to escape and get a little piece of peace,” she said. “We host country picnics, which are themed around the season, and country campfires. Guests can walk around the property, have fun, sit, rest and relax.”
In the future, she would like to add a structure to host more events like weddings, yoga and meditation classes, and other ceremonies.
“I have so many big goals and dreams,” she said. “This home has such a beautiful history and I feel like I have a big responsibility to the past and future to make this work.”
In the first few months of operation, the farm has welcomed roughly 100 guests, both local and visitors from the Greater Toronto Area.
Earlier this summer, Van De Ven welcomed HGTV star Scott McGillivray to the farm to film an episode of his show, “Buying In” in partnership with CIBC.
“On the very last day that they were accepting applications for the show, I stumbled across their advertisement,” she said. “They were looking for entrepreneurs with unique properties in the Southwestern Ontario area. After several interviews, I was accepted and Scott and his team came out for a day in June to film. He gave me so much incredible advice to make the space even better and I’ve been working to implement those changes.”
Throughout the process, the CIBC team gave Van De Ven guidance to make the suggested changes and tips on finances.
“They have been ready and willing to answer any questions financially and have been so wonderful to work with,” she said. “It’s fine when you have all of the wonderful ideas, but you also need to have support to make it happen.”
With the new changes to the home, Van De Ven said she is excited to welcome more guests from near and far to enjoy the farm.
“My biggest goal is to just keep getting wonderful people here to enjoy this awesome little piece of property,” she said. “There’s something about this farm, it really is magical. I don’t know what it is or how to describe it in words, you just have to come and feel it for yourself.”