By UPMA KAPOOR
It is fairly common to find an alpaca farm in someone’s backyard in Fredericksburg. At least, it is for residents of Coakley Lane ever since the Marantha Alpaca Farm moved in.
Six years ago, husband-and-wife duo Perry and Lisa Darley thought of starting a bed and breakfast in either North Carolina or Fredericksburg, but the couple ultimately decided to stay in Fredericksburg after discovering the missing element that would ultimately become crucial to their future establishment: alpacas.
After the couple researched and visited various alpaca farms, they began breeding their own herd in the fall of 2007 and launched their farm, Marantha Alpaca Farm.
While Fredericksburg is nothing like South America, the alpacas’ native continent, the Darleys learned that alpacas could live and thrive just about anywhere. This became more apparent when they visited an alpaca farm in Italy.
“They just live under my back porch. You just need to feed them and give them a place to go when it rains,” Perry Darley said.
Despite the Darley’s jokes about alpacas under their porch, the couple owns a large amount of land that has been transformed into a farm for their animals.
The farm’s primary focus is on the alpacas’ fibers. The softer the fur, the higher the quality will be for products. The better the product, the higher the price, which will generate more profit in the market. While the Darleys do not make any products from the alpacas’ wool, they do sell wool to artisans who do.
Aside from the business perspective, the Darleys are eager to educate the public about the benefits of alpacas and giving back to the community.
The Darleys encourage people to visit their farm with a personalized tour and information session Wednesdays through Saturdays. These visits must be made by appointment, but include an informational session about the alpacas before feeding them lunch.
Terry Wong, a UMW exchange student from Hong Kong, had never seen or heard of alpacas prior to his visit. After comparing the alpaca farm to living on campus, he felt like it was “a natural and [peaceful] place for people to live.”
“The environment, the residence, and the animals made me feel that I escaped from the loud, annoying urban city,” said Wong. “I like the life being close to the natural.”
So before finals, why not pay a visit to an alpaca farm?