#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!
Our state’s agriculture industry is full of many adorable livestock animals, including alpacas. At Good Karma Ranch in Iron Station, you can not only see the alpaca and learn about their place in the industry, but also pet them, feed them and even do yoga with them! What started as a simple move for a quieter lifestyle became a community hub where people from all walks of life come to enjoy peace, joy and fun on the farm.
In 2009, Mike and Shelly Walsh purchased their first group of alpacas and dove full-time into the farming business. “I didn’t know much about alpacas initially, but Mike took me to the Carolina Alpaca Celebration in Concord to learn more and I fell in love with the animals,” Shelly said. Today, they have about 30 alpacas on-site at any given time. “Not only do we raise and breed alpacas, but we also offer a variety of agritourism events throughout the year to invite the public out to our farm and teach them about these amazing animals,” she said. In fact, the very first event that they ever offered was their Fall Farm event in honor of National Alpaca Farm Day, which takes place each year the last weekend in September. Good Karma Ranch continues to host this event today, in addition to many others like Alpaca Yoga, Farm Tours and Craft Classes.
One of the most popular events at Good Karma Ranch is their alpaca yoga. These classes are offered both publicly on a regular basis between March and October, as well as privately upon request. “We hire an instructor to come in and teach a yoga class in the field with our alpacas,” Shelly said. “Each participant is typically seated on a mat with a bucket of alfalfa next to them. This is the only time that our alpacas get alfalfa, so they have a blast walking around from person to person throughout the class,” Shelly said. “People are allowed to talk, pet and feed the animals, and take photos.” All ages are welcome to participate in alpaca yoga. Private classes are restricted to a ten person minimum and can be reserved by reaching out to Mike and Shelly at email@example.com. For more information on upcoming alpaca yoga dates, check out their website event calendar! Public yoga classes cost $25 per person.
The fall brought two exciting craft classes to Good Karma Ranch, Fairy Gardens with the Alpacas and Fall Flower Arranging with the Alpacas. “We teamed up with another small business creative to offer these classes in October,” Shelly said. “It was a great way to bring two small businesses efforts together in our area and create a beautiful final product.” Classes are offered throughout the year and change themes based on time of year and interest. Pricing is dependent upon the teacher needs, if applicable, and materials required for the crafts completion.
Finally, farm tours are offered at Good Karma Ranch six days a week throughout the year. “I love educating people throughout the tour on where alpacas come from, what they are historically used for, what makes their fiber special, what they do on a daily basis and how to interact with them,” Mike said. “Touring people around and watching their eyes light up as they learn more about these amazing animals, and even better, interact with them, is incredibly rewarding.” Farm tours cost $13 per person and can be reserved on their website. Private tours are also available upon request for parties of four or more at $20 per person.
Products from Good Karma Ranch can be found on-site in their farm store, online at their website or at various offsite events throughout the year, including the Christmas Market at Old Mecklenburg Brewing Company in Charlotte. They offer many alpaca fiber products that are perfect for your holiday shopping list, including socks, sweaters, gloves and ornaments.
“I get a real happiness boost in seeing the joy that people have in meeting and interacting with these animals,” Shelly said. “Seeing the smiling faces of adults and children alike is enough to make the tough days on the farm worth it.” Check out their website today to book your day at the farm and be sure to visit them this holiday season and pick out something special for your loved ones. We are thankful for all the hard-work that they provide for the future of our state’s alpaca farming industry.