[Spotlight] Arcadia Lodge & Dharma Farm Animal Refuge
By: Jasmyn Brunson
“We bought this 10-acre property about seven years ago, and we decided to adopt and rescue some farm animals, and that’s how it all started!” said Dharma Farm Animal Refuge owners Maria and Will Taylor. The not-for-profit Dharma Farm Animal Refuge is located just East of High Point.
Maria said Dharma Farm’s primary mission is to “educate people about veganism as well as to help the environment and animals.”
Maria manages the refuge, and she occasionally gets help from volunteers, most notably her husband, who is a professor in the UNCG in the chemistry department. Maria said she does not make any money from running the refuge, and that “all the income that the refuge generates goes directly into caring for the animals.”
The farm is a micro-sanctuary, with 10 farm animals including alpacas, goats, donkeys and one cow living on the refuge.
“They are all lovely and have very distinct personalities,” Maria said.
One of the goats, named Kooky, is the “refuge ambassador.” She said he has a neuromuscular condition and uses a wheelchair to get around, “but he is still very active and friendly.” Maria has written a children’s book about Kooky based on his adventures since moving to the refuge and describes it as “a good introduction to animal rights as well as disability liberation.” Maria joked that she is the “low-brow author” in the family, as her daughter Astra Taylor was just featured in the Greensboro Bound Literary Festival, while daughter Sunaura Taylor was the keynote speaker at the UNCG Ashby series a few weeks ago.
Maria and Will live in a lodge-like home on the property they call Arcadia Lodge. The lodge has an event space on the ground-floor level where Maria hosts a variety of events such as pop-up/multi-course vegan dinners, coffee house soirees and salon-style gatherings. Maria said that she also organizes a wide range of creative, healthy and inspiring classes, which are led by talented facilitators. Some of these courses include vegan cooking classes, art workshops, events for children, and a new practice she is developing called Animal Assisted Mindfulness. One popular event is the bi-weekly Open House with Plant-Based Sunday Brunch. Maria said the brunch is free with a ticket purchase to visit the refuge.
“The main mission is to educate people about the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet, and to show them that a wide range of delicious plant-based options exists,” Maria said. “Which is why the menu changes weekly. Of course, you do not have to be vegan or vegetarian to attend.”
The next brunch is scheduled for May 26 from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., and more information can be found on its Eventbrite page. The facility can only seat 24 guests inside, so Maria said it’s important to get tickets in advance as the upcoming brunch is almost full.
“All the proceeds for every event that we do goes towards off-setting the expense for caring for the animals,” Maria said. “We still have a huge deficit as we had to build all the infrastructure here for them from scratch, but these events really do help with the ongoing costs.”
Maria added, “On June 9 we will be celebrating our seventh anniversary here. The brunch that day will be served outside, weather permitting, and the much-loved local band, the Alley Rabbits, will be performing; we will have other activities as well, like mural and face-painting.”
Arcadia Lodge and the Dharma Farm Animal Refuge are only open during special events and Sunday brunches, but Maria said facilities are also available for daylong retreats for small groups. For more information about the farm and events visit their website and Facebook page.