POWNAL – Four-year-old J.T. Pound and his brother Drew, 2, peeked over a fence at Upper Farm Alpacas on Sunday to get a closer look at the inquisitive animals.

“We came here to learn a little more about alpacas and to entertain the kids,” said their father, Kris Pound, who raises geese and chickens at their home in Durham. “It’s good for the kids to be around animals and farms.”

The alpaca farm was one of dozens of farms across Maine that opened their barns and pastures to the public, promoting agriculture as part of the annual Open Farm Day.

Greg and Nicole Carter, owners of Upper Farm Alpacas, said they began their business in 2005 with the intention of getting only a few alpacas for the fiber they yield. She said the more research they did, the quicker they fell in love with alpacas.

The Carters wound up with nine alpacas and started breeding them. They now have 36 alpacas on their 125-acre farm.

They breed, buy and sell alpacas, and also turn their fur into a fiber product that is spun in local mills and sold by the Carters at local farmers markets.

“We fell in love with these guys,” Nicole Carter said. “They get into your heart and just seize you. They are very intelligent and curious. You can see a lot by looking into their eyes.”

Sandra Denekamp of West Roxbury, Mass., keeps her eight alpacas at the Carters’ farm. On Sunday, she was one of three women who demonstrated how to spin the fur. Denekamp said Open Farm Day is a great event that draws the community together.

“The interest that people have shown and the amount of people that have come here has been great,” Denekamp said.

The 21st annual event was organized by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources. Many farmers offered tours of their farms and fields, gave demonstrations on milking cows and set up petting zoos.

Another farm on the tour was Green Spark Farm on Fowler Road in Cape Elizabeth. It offered tours of its 3 acres, home to rare and heirloom vegetables, flowers and medicinal herbs.

Warren Knight, whose family owns Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook, also opened his farm to the community Sunday. Smiling Hill gave free wagon rides and demonstrations on milking cows and making butter. Knight said more than 500 people attended.

“It’s always an important day to recognize the contributions that farmers make to our existence,” Knight said.

“In this day and age, when people are so removed from farming, it’s important to recognize that the products people use every day originated on a farm by animals and plants that are cared for by farmers.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com