Your Once-a-Year Chance to Tour an Amazing Farm

The SVF Foundation, a pioneer in the preservation of heritage breed livestock, opens to the public for one day only on Saturday.

Swiss Village in Newport makes you think you took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in Switzerland: quaint stone buildings appear amongst rolling hills of green grass with red shingle roofs glinting in the sun and the faint smell of the ocean lingering in the air. But Swiss Village is more than a random deposition of a Swiss town onto Aquidneck Island; it is also home to the SVF Foundation, a pioneer in the preservation of heritage breed livestock. Normally closed-off to visitors for fear of contamination, this Sat., June 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the doors will open for SVF’s annual Visitor’s Day. This is an event that is kind of like the rare opening of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory except instead of Oompa-Loompa’s you will see goats, sheep and cattle trotting around.

Swiss Village has a history that begins in 1909 with wealthy copper mine and railroad speculator Arthur Curtiss James. James needed a place to hold his prize herd of Guernsey cattle, so he bought land in Newport and began construction of Swiss Village. Through time, the farm passed through different hands until recent owners, Mrs. Dorrance Hill Hamilton and her partner, purchased it as a haven for the preservation of heritage breeds.

This Saturday, self-guided tours allow you to take in the scenic pastures as well as learn about these special heritage breeds, with inhabitants like Chip, a rare Tennessee fainting goat who started life as a frozen embryo. There will be sheep-shearing, a tour of the state-of-the-art facilities, and the chance to spot some Dorset Horn Sheep, a breed that look strikingly similar to URI’s Rhody the ram mascot…

There will also be the opportunity to buy SVF products and heritage meats, and Julians Omnibus will be on hand with heritage burgers and other treats to keep you sustained as you explore. Don't miss it, or you will have to wait until next year for another glimpse into Swiss Village.

Sat., June 13. 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Free. Parking available at Fort Adams State Park and free transportation to Swiss Village from 9 a.m.–3 pm. For more information, call 401-848-7229 or visit svffoundation.org.

All photos courtesy of the SVF Foundation.

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