#EscapeWithNCAg is a year-long series that will focus on agritourism across North Carolina. Many farms, wineries and other agricultural businesses in our state offer events such as tours, yoga, educational classes, pick-your-own events and festivals, to entertain the public and teach them about our state’s number one industry. Each Thursday, we will feature a new site for you to visit with friends or family. Stay tuned and learn how to escape the stresses of life by diving into agriculture!
Greensboro is home to a place that provides peace and escape from the everyday anxieties of life. Each weekend, Brookhaven Mill Farm offers animal therapy for you and your family to breathe, relax and enjoy life on the farm.
In 2019, Cheryl Preston, owner and operator of Brookhaven Mill Farm, moved from Lake Lure to Greensboro to pursue her dream of operating a farm that not only educated the public about agricultural life, but also gave them the opportunity to engage with the animals and even stay on the property. “I started out with a few cats, mini horses and goats, while I was at the Lake Lure property,” she said. “Over time, people started asking to come out to the farm, visit with the animals and learn about our process. That’s when I decided to move the farm to Greensboro, and it all honestly grew organically from that moment.” Today, Cheryl cares for many sheep, goats, donkeys, chickens, geese, mini horses and cats, all of whom love when people come out to visit with them on the farm. “They not only love it for the food, but for the cuddles as well,” Cheryl says.
Although there are many unique events offered at Brookhaven Mill Farm, one of the more popular, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, are the animal therapy sessions. Originally, visitors were only allowed to purchase packaged animal treats at the farm store on-site and feed the animals over the fence. “I started listening to what people were saying, which was that they wanted to get closer to the animals, love on them and hug them,” Cheryl said. “So, I started trying it with close friends of mine to ensure the animals would be safe, well-mannered and enjoy it.” No surprise, they all loved the attention!
Through the contact form on their website, animal therapy sessions can be reserved in one-hour increments each weekend. Typically animals are separated into pastures and customers can choose which ones they would prefer to spend time with. “If I know that someone is coming out to spend time with the mini horses and donkeys, I’ll put them in a pasture together,” Cheryl said. As long as you let her know ahead of time, like when you book the reservation, Cheryl will do her absolute best to set aside the animals you wish to spend the hour with. Animal therapy sessions are $10 per hour and customers must stay seated in the pasture the entire time.
In addition to animal therapy, Brookhaven Mill Farms also offers several other opportunities for people to visit the farm throughout the year, including photos with baby lambs during the Easter holiday, birthday parties and weddings where possible, educational walking tours, sheep shearing day and pick-your-own lavender days. The farmhouse on-site is also open for reservations via Air B&B! “Some people choose to spend the weekend or longer on the farm to delve a little deeper into country life here,” Cheryl said. “It’s full of peace and serenity as well as opportunity to bond with animals and learn how to harvest your own food, like eggs for breakfast each morning.” Cheryl also allows RV campers to park on-site for the weekends.
The farm store is open each weekend and offers a variety of local products from Brookhaven Mill Farm as well as other neighboring farms, including Homeland Creamery. “I partner with farms in the area to sell their local meats, dairy products and more, along with my farm fresh eggs,” Cheryl said. “It gives a good variety of products for people to choose from when they come or to cook with then they stay.”
By attending events held at Brookhaven Mill Farm, children and adults alike can learn many life lessons, including how to do farm life, the purpose of livestock on a working farm and the importance of locally raised food. “My favorite part of hosting people on the farm is not only being able to showcase my pride in creating and running this place, but also teaching them how to farm in a fun way,” Cheryl said. “Letting kids come out to the farm and play outside in nature, seeing the sparkle in their eye when they pet a goat or donkey and watching their awe and wonder in eating an egg just harvested from the coop, is worth every second because it’s building a new generation of leaders for this industry.” Start planning your trip to visit Brookhaven Mill Farm today and learn all about the peace, joy and happiness that can be found on a North Carolina farm!