Local alpaca farmers look to crowd sourcing
By Jody O'Hara
Jul 17, 2014, 11:16
Tony and Maryanne Anthony are looking to finance an analog farm with digital funding.
With a desire to go, "off-grid," or completely disconnect from utilities, the couple have turned to the on-line crowd sourcing site, Indiegogo.
They hope to raise $2,000 in order to construct fencing for pasturage for their alpacas and build a solar-power kit for their barn.
"Our hope is to create a solar garden which would be comprised of an array of solar panels," Maryanne Anthony said. "Ideally, we'd like to produce enough energy to supply not only our farm, but surrounding properties as well."
She said several neighbors had expressed an interest in the concept.
It would still be necessary to develop a distribution system with an ability to sell excess electricity to the power company.
The couple attended a sheep and wool festival in Maryland several years ago and ultimately worked as hands on an alpaca farm.
"We wanted to make sure we knew what we were getting into," Maryanne Anthony said. "We learned that we love it."
Living on land in Big Level that's been in Tony Anthony's family for 200 years, they now have nine alpacas and are producing wool and knitted goods made from the animal's fleece.
"They're very docile animals and they're easy to maintain," Maryanne Anthony said. "Instead of hooves, they have padded feet like a dog and they're so much easier on the land than other animals and we are an organic farm."
Alpacas are a domesticated species of South American camelid, resembling small llamas.
Too small to serve as pack animals, they have been tended for thousands of years in the high Andes of South America for their soft fleece.
Maryanne Anthony processes the fleece by washing, combing and spinning, producing raw material, skeins of yarn and finished products.
This year, the couple got 50 pounds of fleece from their nine alpacas.
Processed, that fleece can translate into 200 four-ounce skeins of yarn which sell for as much as $75.
The Indiegogo campaign features flexible funding; a donation of $10 will get the donor a handmade trinket, $25 gets a skein of yarn or a package of unspun fleece, or "roving."
A donation of $75 is rewarded with a doll or custom-made item.
"We're trying to create a proof-of-concept," said Maryanne Anthony. "We'd like to show that you can go off-grid and have a sustainable, organic farm."
Those interested can learn more at:
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