Located just a few minutes outside of downtown Farmville is Brighteyes Alpaca Retreat, a unique micro farm that supports a herd of beautiful alpacas and their diligent canine protectors. With three new alpacas; Coco, Nilla, and Bunny-O, the herd has grown now to eight alpacas on site. From its start as an idea years ago, the farm has flourished from the hard work and dedication of its owners, Cindy and Bill Bergen.
Before going into the alpaca retreat and agritourism business the Bergen’s lived in southeastern Pennsylvania. Cindy was a university registrar and Bill was a database administrator and neither had any prior experience in raising livestock or running a farm. The idea to own these animals started when Cindy was invited by her daughter on a trip to an alpaca farm. After experiencing how social and therapeutic the alpacas were, Cindy went to Bill and exclaimed that they had to have their own.
They spent almost two years learning everything they could about alpacas, through research, going to festivals, and visiting other farms and shearing events. Once they felt comfortable with the knowledge of how to care for the livestock, they decided there was no better way to learn than from the experience of doing it themselves.
In 2016 they planned to move to be closer to their oldest daughter, who is a professor at Longwood, and they found a perfect location just outside of Farmville. After building their barn and making some other renovations to the property, they were ready to bring in some alpacas.
Since they have been open, the farm has offered educational opportunities to visitors and special tours to show all the processes involved in caring for their alpacas, the farm, and the production of alpaca fiber. There is so much for guests to learn about on the farm, and when talking to Bill and Cindy you can hear the passion they have for these animals and for teaching others about them. The tours are popular among all kinds of groups from scouts to book clubs, and individual families. People even frequently visit from out of town, staying at the Airbnb that is set up right on the farm property. Reserved guests staying in the apartment also have access to the pool in season and their own personal farm tours.
According to Bill, of all the tours offered, the most popular attraction is the dogs, Jake and Jili, whose job it is to guard the herd from any threats. They are vigilant in their duty and will happily introduce themselves to any visitors to make sure they receive plenty of recognition for their hard work. Even though they are guard dogs, they are extremely friendly and love to be petted by guests.
There are ways for visitors to stay connected to the farm beyond their visit. Through their adoption program, guests can sponsor an alpaca to learn more about the herd and to keep in contact with the farm. The different packages can be found on their website. Over the past 18 months the herd has grown to 8 alpacas, and with some being pregnant there are more on the way! Brighteyes truly is, as it says in their name, a retreat for these wonderful animals, an alpaca oasis right here in Farmville. For information on their tours, lodging, events, and even bios on the alpacas themselves, head to their website at http://brighteyesalpacas.com/ or give them a call at (434)-577-9089.