The Farm's History
In 1966, Boys & Girls Homes of NC purchased what is now known as the Farm & Benton/BTS Arena & Exhibition Center from Mr. Paul Sutton. It was comprised of 108 acres and had previously been used primarily as a pecan grove with some pastured cattle until Mr. Sutton retired and much of the farm had not been kept up. The initial offer was $1,000 per acre of land. Because B&GH was and still is a nonprofit organization, such money did not come very easily. A successful campaign found one thousand people to give $100 each and that was how the farm was purchased.
At that time, B&GH only had male residents. The farm was purchased to provide a place where the boys could learn how to work in an agricultural environment and to find some recreational area away from the cottage campus. It was also used to grow some of the food for the campus which included a large vegetable garden as well as the livestock. Over the years hogs were also raised on the farm in addition to the cattle. The boys participated in the county youth livestock shows showing both cattle and hogs. Horses have been a part of the farm from the very beginning, providing a source of recreation for the campus residents.
In the early 1990's, the exhibition center and arena was built, along with several stalls to be used for hosted events such as hors shows, rodeos, car shows, dog shows, festivals, musical events, etc. The farm and exhibition center not only acted as a place of recreation and work for its residents, but a great source of income that reverts to the operating budget for the programs of care.
When our nation took a great economic impact in the mid-2000s, so did events especially those involving equines. The economy has made great strides in the past 4 years and we are currently making our greatest attempts at restoring our farm and exhibition center to offer one of the best facilities on the east coast. Barns are being restored and built to accommodate larger horse shows. A new Equine program was put into place in March 2016 - the George Fehr & Hans Tachau Equine Therapy & Horsemanship Training Center. The Center's goal was primarily to offer more opportunities for our current residents, but we now also offer services to the public, which in turn generates revenue. These services include horse sales, boarding, lessons, training, and therapeutic riding. Since March of 2016, we have come great lengths in improving our facility not only for events, but for the equine programs as well so that our children have every opportunity to pursue even the smallest interest that ranges from therapeutic to possibly a life long career.
Cattle operations had also dwindled down in the 2000's because the cost began to outweigh the benefits. However, in March of 2017 we had a gracious donor purchase and donate 25 black angus heifers which has now given us the boost we needed to fully engage a livestock program, giving us just another resource for our residents to develop a strong work ethic and appreciation.