KENT, Ohio — Scott Westberg has been captivated with alpacas since he was a teenager; fascinated by their soft, pillow-like fiber, their history coming from Peru and the immense benefits of alpaca fertilizer, one of the best natural fertilizers in the world he says.
Now, 27 years later, he owns his own alpaca farm with the hopes of spreading the word about their many benefits.
However, as a relatively new business owner, Westberg wants to give back more to the community than just entertainment and education. This Thanksgiving, Westberg’s Pure Passions Farm is teaming up with fitness facility Tyrannosaurus Flex to provide local families in need with a turkey and Thanksgiving sides, with the help of community donations.
“In this last year of getting our business off the ground, I’m trying to find other opportunities with our time to help the community in other ways,” Westberg said.
Pure Passions Farm
Westberg’s first job in high school was on a llama and alpaca farm in Wisconsin. It was here that he fell in love with alpacas, with the hopes of one day owning his own farm.
For 20 years, Westberg traveled the country working for Family Video until one day he was able to put down roots in Stow and buy a few alpacas to be taken care of at a local farm.
“During those 20 years, I moved around a lot. So I didn’t always have alpacas, but I always found a farm to work on or help out with or help shear,” Westberg said.
He continued working for Family Video and would routinely visit his alpacas, until July 2022 when a local alpaca farmer put his land up for sale.
Realizing this was his shot to live the dream he imagined as a teenager, Westberg and his wife both quit their jobs and bought the farm with the eight alpacas it came with.
Now, Westberg lives on the property with his wife, two kids, 42 alpacas and 19 goats, and runs his business Pure Passions Farm where everyone has the opportunity to pet, feed and learn more about the animals.
Since opening, they have hosted various themed events where guests can hang out with the goats and alpacas, rent out the property for birthday parties, fires and cookouts, have educational field trips to the farm and participate in paint n’ sip sessions with alpacas. Over the summer, he also partnered with Tryannousus Flex to do goat yoga.
Alongside enjoying the animals, Pure Passions Farm has a farm store on the property where guests can buy alpaca fiber products made from the alpacas on the farm.
To make the products, Westberg sends the alpaca fiber to a mill where it is processed and made into different consumer goods like socks, hats, scarves, gloves, blankets and alpaca plush toys.
“Socks are the most popular (item we have); people love cozy warm feet. And since alpaca fiber is so much warmer and softer than most other fibers in the world, people love that,” Westberg said.
After their first year of business, Westberg began looking for more opportunities to give back to the local community and stumbled upon a turkey giveaway.
Inspired by his former job that used to give away 20 turkeys to families in need every Thanksgiving, Westberg decided to carry on the tradition with his own business and team up with Tryannousus Flex owner Kellie Dziemianzuk to provide for 10 local families.
“Since now I have my own business, I wanted to carry on that tradition (because) it’s such a good way to give back to the community,” Westberg said.
To find these families, Westberg asked community members to nominate families within a 10-mile radius of Stow and Kent, Ohio.
After nominations closed, Westberg and Dziemianzuk realized they had 31 nominations for families in need instead of only 10.
“I wasn’t really sure what the need would be, which is why we selected 10 in the first place,” Westberg said. “(We weren’t) sure if we were gonna get to 10 or not, but having it jump to over 30 that quickly (was) surprising; and gives us confidence that we’re doing the right thing.”
On Nov. 18, Westberg hosted an event called Thanksgiving — Giving Back on the Farm at Pure Passions Farms as a way to accrue more donations. Guests got free entry to the event with the donation of a Thanksgiving meal side while they enjoyed feeding and petting the animals, face painting, shopping at the farm store and eating food sold by a hot dog vendor.
After the event, Westberg received enough donations to feed up to 35 families. They also received enough additional funds to buy $20 gift cards for each family to buy other necessary, perishable products like milk and butter.
Westberg and Dziemianzuk were able to drop off the majority of donations on Sunday and only had 8 more families to go when Monday hit.
In the near future, Pure Passions Farm is set to host three different Christmas events this upcoming December. At all three events, food vendors will be present and kids will be able to visit Santa as well as feed and visit the alpacas and goats.
Westberg also hopes to have different local vendors selling last-minute Christmas presents at one of the three planned events.
As Westberg waits for the snowfall and jingle bells to ring in the Christmas spirit, he remains grateful for all the help received from the turkey giveaway and expects to do it all over again next year.
“We had planned on 10 families and got up to 35. Between me and Tyrannosaurus Flex, we are going to have to sit down and decide what’s a realistic number for us to hit (next year.) Can we even do more than 35 with enough preparation,” Westberg said.
Pure Passions Farm is located at 7679 Seasons Rd, Kent, OH 44240. For more information, visit https://www.purepassionsfarm.com/.
(Reporter Liz Partsch can be reached at email@example.com or 330-337-3419.)
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