#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!
Bison are strong animals that most people are intrigued by, yet never get to interact with. Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm in Roxboro is changing all of that with their farm tours and event venue.
Over 200 years ago, 225 to be exact, the Pleasant family started Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm with row crops and other livestock, including dairy cows. Due to their rich heritage and agricultural successes, they are a member of our Bicentennial Farm Family Program today! As a kid, Jack Pleasant spent his summers working on the farm but never developed a true passion and love for it until he moved to the farm as an adult to continue the family legacy. “At the age of 14, I went backpacking and saw a ranch that raised bison. That was the first time I had ever seen them and I was intrigued,” he said. “It was that passion, years later, as well as my background in healthcare and focus on nutrition, that led me to raise bison here on the family farm.” Today, Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm is home to 70 bison and looking to expand to 90 in the near future.
In 2006, Jack and his wife Sandy became involved with the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association farm tours, which kicked off their venture into agritourism. “We had never done anything like that on the farm before but once we got started we truly enjoyed it,” Jack said. “It’s amazing to have people come out to the farm, see the bison and allow us to educate them on what we do here.” Since then, the farm has expanded to include three different tour options based on size of the group. They have hosted school groups, retirement homes, churches and more as well as small families and friend groups. Some of them even bring a chef or a designated cook to make bison burgers at the end of the tour to enjoy under the beautiful gazebo.
While on a farm tour, visitors can expect to discuss the history of bison and their differences from buffalo, visit the handling facility and learn about the care and behavior of bison, and, finally, take a trip into the bison pasture with the herd to talk about calves, herding instincts, predators and more. “It’s always a good time for people to experience the bison up close,” Jack said. “We can’t promise how close they may come, simply because of their nature. It all depends on their mood that day.” Tours are offered year round, but most take place during the spring or fall because of weather. Cost depends on the size of the tour group but starts at $50 for the first five people. Small tours can hold up to 11 and large tours can hold up to 25 individuals. Tours can be booked online at their website or by calling the farm.
In addition to farm tours, the Pleasant family has hosted many other events on the farm through their beautiful gazebo and venue, including weddings, birthday parties, eagle scout ceremonies, proms and more. “The venue was built by a dear friend of mind and has been a place of peace and beauty for many special events,” Jack said. “It can hold between 150 and 175 people and it boasts an amazing view of our 4-acre lake.” For all inquiries on the venue, visit their website here: https://www.sunsetridgebuffalo.com/.
Although finding a meat processor on a consistent basis can be a challenge in the bison industry, Jack wouldn’t trade a thing for the pride and joy he feels in raising these animals that are not as common in the N.C. Agriculture industry and continuing the legacy of farming on his family’s land. “I enjoy educating the people who visit on the bison as well as the history of our farm, especially that we are a bicentennial farm,” he said. “We are very proud of that accomplishment and overcoming the challenges that came along with that. I can only hope that in the future, this farm and the bison industry as a whole in North Carolina will continue to grow and prosper.”
Products from Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm can be purchased during your visit or at the Durham and Carrboro Farmers Markets on Saturday mornings. Their meat products, including steak cuts and sausage, are also sold at the Farm and Garden Store outside of Hillsborough and the Hurdle Mills Farmers Market.
“Increasingly through the years, the people who come here have little to no exposure to farming,” Jack said. “For some, a visit to our farm is nostalgic and for others it’s a brand new experience. Either way, by coming here, they get to learn about the work we do as farmers and why it’s important. We are blessed to be able to live in this way and want to inspire others to do the same.” Start planning your trip to Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm today!