Summer is a time when people look forward to enjoying the great outdoors and nature’s beauty in all its splendor. Where better homes and gardens is not just an expression but a way of life for those who are enchanted with colorful flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables, cuddly pets, playful animals and entertaining others.
Peter and Susan Goodwin are a Cleveland couple who believe there is more happiness in giving their time and energy to creating a plush environment and welcoming the community to come out and enjoy their unique Foster’s Trail and Alpaca Farm, which combines entertainment, education, relaxation and practical products with a stroll into the wonders of nature and a degree of interaction with some of the most cuddly and curious creatures one will ever see in the city of Cleveland.
“At Foster’s Trail, we love alpacas!” Susan said. “Peter and I enjoy sharing our alpaca lifestyle and experiences with visitors. We always encourage anyone interested in learning more about alpacas to visit our farm. Admission is free. However, we do ask that people call to schedule an appointment, weather permitting. We have babies (crias), yearlings and adults, male and female. They are very curious and love visitors, plus they are just so cute! Everyone loves them.”
Alpacas are known for their intelligence, gentleness and adaptability, making them ideal pets. They are playful, easy to care for, live long productive lives, are relatively disease resistant and come in 22 natural colors.
Besides visiting these adorable creatures, the Cleveland couple offers a guided tour that features one of the most colorful gardens in Bradley County, filled with dazzling flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables grown under their own quality conditions.
“Our vegetable garden is producing by leaps and bounds!,” Susan said. “We have squash, tomatoes, onions, okra, corn, potatoes, beets, carrots, green beans, eggplant, cucumbers and peppers, just to name a few. We also have apples, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cantaloupe and watermelon, plus several types of herbs.”
The couple said “the secret to our garden is alpaca compost! In November, we add alpaca beans (manure) to the raised beds and let it seep into the beds throughout the winter. In the spring, we till each of the beds and add seeds or plants. This is the only type of fertilizer used in our garden and it works. It’s also available for purchase.”
Since May 2007, Peter and Susan have been on the cutting edge of bringing simple pleasures back to Cleveland while offering exquisite, rare, top-quality clothing and accessories made from alpaca fleece at their boutique farm.
“Alpaca is very thermal and in the past the clothing offered in our store has been more for the fall and winter months — cool evenings,” Susan explained. “Therefore, I started designing the silk chiffon items embellished with alpaca fiber in order to provide choices for the summer. They’re very light and breezy and fun to wear! The silk chiffon is hand dyed and then adorned with alpaca fiber of similar hues.”
In fact, the Fuzzy Lilly Alpaca Shoppe, owned by the Goodwins, recently participated in a Fiber Arts Fashion Show (to Wearables Event) held at the Museum Center at Five Points. Several artists from Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee participated in the June 1 event. There was also a fashion show luncheon in which the artists’ products were modeled. The Goodwins provided five items for the fashion show, all designed and made by Susan.
The grand finale was a surprise to all when Susan walked on stage wearing a hand-knitted tunic accompanied by her female alpaca, Sun Star. The tunic was made from Sun Star’s fleece.
“Sun Star was a big hit!” Susan said. “Alpaca fiber is a wonderful product. It is hypoallergenic, it contains no dander or lanolin. It is very luxurious and is naturally water repellent.”
The Fuzzy Lilly Alpaca Shoppe carries a wide selection of alpaca products such as scarves, yarn, roving, sweaters, coats, hats and gloves, according to the Goodwins. One of their most popular items is socks.
“We have several types for all ages,” Susan said. “The therapeutic sock is perfect for anyone with circulation issues such as diabetics. We also offer yoga socks, hunting socks, ski socks and many other styles.”
With much of their time and energy invested in providing products that are environmentally friendly, safe and durable while offering the public a tour around their farm, Peter and Susan said they consider themselves blessed and thankful they can offer their services to the public despite the fact their property was devastated by a tornado in last March.
“On March 2, 2012, our property was hit by a tornado,” they said. “We have finally finished the new design and landscaping of our front lawn. This was a major project. Prior to the tornado, our front lawn was covered with large pine trees which gave much privacy and shade. After the tornado destroyed approximately 40 to 50 trees in our front lawn — including the gazebo — leaving us very exposed with lots of sunlight, we had to come up with a new plan.”
After their architectural designers and landscape designer worked with the couple on a new look, Susan and Peter said they now have 51 different varieties and a total of 472 new flowers, bushes and trees for the community to enjoy. The couple said they are very excited to present to the public their farm and store as a source of entertainment, education and quality products rarely seen in the area.
On September 28-29, Foster’s Trail and Alpaca Farm will be open to the public for National Alpaca Farm Days. For further information call 423-559-9100 or email: email@example.com or visit www.fosterstrailalpacas.com.