SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Agriculture is a vital part of South Carolina’s economy and impacts every citizen.
The Department of Agriculture works to connect more people with agriculture and many farmers have joined the effort by diversifying their operations through agritourism.
The Upstate of South Carolina is home to some of the biggest and best farms in the state where you can enjoy a wide range of activities for families from corn mazes to pumpkin and apple picking.
However, nestled in the middle of a Spartanburg subdivision sits a 6-acre farm that is worlds away from your typical farm.
Karen Kopp and Juergen Kopp own and operate OnAgain OffAgain Farm. It’s an alpaca breeding farm that they open up to agritourism and for people to come visit.
Agritourism is a great way to get you out to big farms like Denver Downs and Strawberry Hill, but you can visit smaller farms like OnAgain OffAgain Farms where you can learn about unique products and animals like alpacas.
The Kopps said they raise alpacas because they are unique, easy to care for, and are social animals. They also admit that it’s the look of these animals that people are attracted to. Simply put, Karen said, ” They’re cute. There’s no doubt about it.”
Like all farms that are part of the agritourism – this is a hands-on experience.
According to Karen, “The first thing people want to do is can is touch one. So, we have the opportunity that we will bring one out where they can touch them, they can at least feed them thru the fence.”
The Kopps said they love to take visitors out to the field where the mommas and the babies are, and you can just see people light up and get so excited about the animals – just having them around them.
Alpacas are native to South America, but they are growing as a part of the agricultural economy here in South Carolina because of their fleece.
During visits, Karen and Juergen talk about the history of alpacas, where they come from, how to care for them and what people do with them.
Alpaca fiber is softer and more hypoallergenic than sheep’s wool. That makes it in high demand. The Kopps show visitors the different products that they make for alpaca fleece, and they sell alpaca products as well. They say one of the biggest treats is alpaca socks.
“Their fiber is actually warmer than sheep’s wool. It wicks away moisture. There’s nothing, I’m telling you, there is nothing better than alpaca socks!”, according to Karen.
The Agritourism Passport program promotes and markets South Carolina farms by giving a look at what these farms produce – whether that’s fruits and vegetables or animal products.
When you visit any farm, like OnAgain OffAgain Farm, they stamp your booklet.
The idea is that you visit several of these participating farms, collect stamps and at the end of the season you enter a drawing for one of several prizes from the farms.
At OnAgain OffAgain Farm, tours last between one and three hours. The idea is that they take as long as the people want and answer as many questions as they can.
This is another benefit of this small farm, it’s ideal for small children, older adults, home-school classes, small groups and anyone who is looking for a more personalized experience.
Juergen said, “We set you up with an appointment and that way you’ve got all our individual attention. We’re not trying to have these people coming up and asking questions. It’s your group and your group only.”
As part of the SC Agritourism Passport Program, meeting award-winning alpacas is a great way to learn about area farms.
If you are interested in learning more about alpacas, OnAgain OffAgain farm offers tours all year long by appointment. They will host their 4th annual Open House/ Holiday Market on Saturday, November 25th.