One of the stand out visits to date of my fellowship was last week in Martha’s Vineyard (MV). Nancy Gardella, the Executive Director (that’s her with my wife below), of the islands Chamber of Commerce took a day out to show us round the sights of MV.
In great weather Nancy took us to see Barbara Ronchetti and her business Island Alpaca (http://islandalpaca.com/). Must admit this was my first time up and personal with these great creatures. Barbara started her farm in 2006 and now has over 80 alpacas and one grumpy llama. The herd is used for breeding purposes and prices for a pedigree specimen can reach tens of thousands of dollars. The wool (or fiber in US speak) is very soft and this herd is particularly known for a fine micron density which can be sold as yarn at a premium. The farm also has a shop where products made from the wool are for sale. All manner of hats, scarves, gloves ets etc can be purchased both at the shop and online. The business is now profitable and a top island visitor attraction. A cute pic below of a cria, a baby alpaca.
My visit was rounded off with my family and I taking Roberto and Salvatore (best behaved in a friendly herd) out for a walk. Great fun and it was a lesson in what can be achieved with hard work and a slightly off the wall business idea.
In my last few days have also managed to visit a couple more general stores, one with a building owned by the community, Alleys in MV has been around since the early 1800′s and was absolutely stuffed full of thousands of items.
The Brewster General Store in Cape Cod which in part was my inspiration for my fellowship was as welcoming to vistor and local alike with its mix of old and new.
Rounded off my visit to Cape Cod with a day out at the community run Yarmouth Seacoast Festival with over 125 craft stalsl and much entertainment for children and adults including a very competitive bed race…. although some participants came a cropper early on!
and the eventual winners…far too professional!