Villa Villelyon, a small goat and duck farm in South Lyon, MI, was one of the first friends of Argus Farm Stop. Rumor has it that Kathy – who boards her horse next door – rode up the lane one afternoon and found Curt and Tim unpacking, newly arrived from San Francisco. Before long, Villa Villelyon was supplying the Farm Stop with all-natural goat milk soap, bath salts, and lotion, made right in their house kitchen! Within their community Villa Villelyon also serves as a co-operative farm, providing duck eggs and meat, goat shares, CSA veggies, and even seasonal calendars.
Villa Villelyon became a reality when Curt and Tim, who were living (and paying high rent) in San Francisco, decided they wanted a change. Tim worked in the entertainment / information technology business – and still does, remotely – while Curt, an architectural designer by training, was rolling sushi at Whole Foods. They bought the land off the Internet, sight unseen, for what Curt says is 'probably the same price as a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco.' Now they are proof that city folks can be farmers too, although when asked where they get their know-how, Curt admits: mostly from Google!
Ever since they made the move, these two have been making their dreams a reality – always with humor, flair and imagination. The farm has expanded to include a small greenhouse, a garden and pumpkin patch, and a solar panel able to power one 70-watt light bulb (if the sun is shining). They have just finished transforming a grain silo into a living space for volunteers, who might never want to leave after they see the loft skylight, composting toilet, and reclaimed-wood counter tops. Along with their many farm animals they have two barn cats and a white, fluffy dog named Squirrel, who is an important part of the team: he likes to helpfully watch out for shiny objects and trot along in front of visitors' cars.
From the start, Villa Villelyon has had a distinct community focus, which extends to their many Facebook fans. Online you can watch videos of their baby ducks dancing to Francoise Hardy songs, or use the “barn cam” to watch Curt milking goats! For Curt and Tim, this friendly and fun atmosphere is an essential part of farm life. They are happy to have in-person visitors as well, and plan to offer a full “demonstration farm” experience, for kids and adults to learn about milking goats, making soap, and growing veggies.
Curt and Tim are always looking for ways to make their passions profitable. Their main project for Argus Farm Stop is the Villa Villelyon soaps and lotions, which typically include all-natural and raw ingredients, such as goat milk, olive and coconut oils, and essential oils. From a No-Nuthin' bar for sensitive skin, to Bergamot for skin conditions, and a historic-recipe Spice Bar, there is a soap for everyone. He also makes an all-natural, non-toxic spray cleaner. (No time to visit Argus? Find their products on Etsy.) Besides soap making, Curt has used his artistic background to design and construct various features out of reclaimed barn wood. If you've ever sat and sipped a latte at Argus, you've probably seen the gorgeous benches he built! A sense of quality and beauty is obvious in all their designed products, and it is this mix of the artistic and natural that sets Villa Villelyon apart.
As farmers, Curt and Tim have found that the process of dreaming and self-educating never ends. They are always learning about every aspect of their farm: what crops grow best in their soil; how to de-worm goats; how to herd escaped ducks out of their neighbor's pasture (very slowly, with a walking stick). And as they have proven so far, these two are willing to take the risks necessary to help their young farm succeed.
-- Post by Rose Miller