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1870 Farm seeks to educate the community about animals and veterinary medicine


Animals roam a field at the 1870 Farm on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023. 

The 1870 Farm, which has over 150 years of history in Chapel Hill, is a place of education and community outreach.

The farm, located at 1224 Old Lystra Rd., was called Sparrow Farm before Amanda McKee and David Schwartz purchased it and renamed it.

The farm has a variety of animals, including rabbits, chickens, ducks, pigs, fainting goats, Nubian goats, sheep, donkeys and more.

Amanda McKee, who also works as a veterinarian, said the farm aims to educate the community, particularly children.

She added that her personal responsibilities are primarily the health, safety and quality of life of the farm's animals. She said she wants to ensure the animals have the preventative care they need and stay happy and healthy.

“If you look at our mission statement, it is to provide agra-education to our local community to help save small farms by alerting people or educating them on the value of the land as a farm as opposed to housing developments, shopping malls and that type of thing,” she said.

McKee said she, and others who emphasize agriculture as a part of their everyday lives, find it amazing that many children do not know where their food comes from or how it is produced. 

She described the summer camps the farm offers as "enriching," as kids are off their devices and breathing fresh air. 

"They are interacting with animals, and animals teach us so much," she said. "Interactions with people can be complicated. Interactions with animals — they're very honest."

Maddy Bell, a UNC sophomore, said she works as a feeder and instructor for the Kids Vet Club at the farm, which teaches children ages 6 through 15 animal care. 

She said she started working at the summer camp with the KVC and then continued working on the farm to further interact with animals during the year.

Bell said in addition to the time she is able to spend with animals, she also enjoys the opportunity to teach children.

“It’s really rewarding to see them light up when you talk about one of your passions that they also like,” Bell said. “The kids that I teach usually want to be vets when they grow up or they just really love animals and to be able to foster that passion of theirs is fun.”

Madison Henderson, a student at N.C. State University who works with Bell as an instructor, said she started at the farm over the summer and has continued working with McKee and Bell throughout the year.

“I really enjoyed teaching little aspiring veterinarians," she said.

Henderson explained that she started revamping the Kids Vet Club’s curriculum in July 2022.She said she has worked to incorporate lessons on specific animals, veterinary ethics and Spanish in veterinary medicine, especially for the Junior Veterinarian Academy, another program on the farm.

“The really cool thing about veterinary medicine is there’s not one clear path,” she said. 

Henderson said at the end of her camp weeks, she likes to tell her students to do what makes them happy and seek their passions — an idea that she feels is often overlooked, especially within veterinary medicine.

She said she feels McKee really believes that her staff has the ability to inspire the next generation of aspiring veterinarians. 

McKee said she and her family have put their hearts and souls into making the farm an enriching environment that people want to visit. 

“I consider it a great privilege to be able to spend my life working with animals that I love and sharing that passion with the rest of the world,” she said.

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Currently, visits to the farm are by appointment or through a class or program only, but McKee said she intends to have open farm days when the weather improves.


@DTHCityState |