Miles of horse riding trails, some along the South Fork of the Little River. A big pond for swimming and fishing. Open meadows for playing. Dense woodlands where Robin Hoods merry men may be hiding. An old restored barn for parties. A grain silo and milking parlor. And nearby, a farmer tends Angus cattle grazing in verdant fields.
Laura Virkler and her dad, George Horton, have teamed up to preserve and share the slower-paced life of the gentleman farmer. And in the bargain, theyll have four generations of family living within 12 miles of each other.
George Horton, a custom home builder, and his wife Alice traded the hustle and bustle of New Jersey for almost 500 acres in Orange County along the South Fork of the Little River in 1984. Their three children, Laura being the oldest at 11 years, came with them.
It was such a unique lifestyle for my brother, sister and me, Laura said. Dad built our house. He raised Angus beef cattle while still building custom homes for other people in the Triangle.
Alice gardened and volunteered for many non-profits, but she also had a passion for Welsh thoroughbred cross ponies, the love of which she passed on to her children.
We had a great time riding horses, fishing and swimming in the pond, Laura said.
When Laura married Drayton Virkler, who is now a senior strategic operations director for Quintiles, she knew she wanted to provide that carefree childhood on the farm for her children with as much extended family as possible nearby.
Mom and Dad always hoped that the farm would stay in the family for grandchildren and great grandchildren, Laura said.
Her husband agreed, but land prices, taxes and growth in the Triangle would require careful planning and sharing to make it possible.
It all come together in 2005 when her parents were ready to downsize and the Virklers were ready to buy the Horton family farm with the intention of carving out a nice-size working farm and stable for themselves and dividing the rest of the land into large estate lots so other families could enjoy the proximity of living near a working farm.
With his building and development expertise, Horton divided up the land to create Pleasant Green Farms. The Federal-style farmhouse he built in 1985 for his family is on a 65-acre tract that allows Laura to continue her fathers Angus cattle business and have room for a private boarding stable, which she named Pleasant Green Farm and Stable.
He also preserved some old farm buildings on 35 more acres that is part of a 50-acre parcel of common land for the enjoyment of all the residents of Pleasant Green Farms. The old silo and milking parlor make an idyllic backdrop for a large barn remodeled for parties, family reunions and weddings with parking on the grassy fields surrounding them. The common land also includes seven miles of riding trails some along the two-mile stretch of the South Fork of the Little River that runs along the property.
These beautiful 10-plus acre estate lots are priced between $220,000 and $325,000. Most are being offered around $280,000. There are 11 lots left in the first phase. The second phase will have 15 lots for a total of 33 lots over 470 acres.
Some tracts are open meadow and others are wooded, but all are assured beautiful views and privacy thanks to restrictive covenants and strict architectural reviews. No specific builder or style of house is required, but each house must be a quality house of at least 3,500 square feet.
One of the last stands of mature hardwood forest in Orange County is at Pleasant Green Farms. Homeowners will be allowed to build only on each tracts two-acre building envelope. The remainder of each tract must be left in a natural state whether wooded or meadow. Although select-cutting will be allowed to maintain the forested land, no clear-cutting of tracts will be allowed.
Every large farm requires more than one pair of hands. For the past 28 years that has been those of Jerry Dixon, whose company, Dixons Services, maintains the common grounds and supplies the mechanical muscle and expertise when a large tree falls.
Laura and her husband revel in the life they have at Pleasant Green Farms.
My kids can run down the driveway to see their great-grandmother, Laura said. Its wonderful.
Lauras grandmother, Walker Kirby (Mrs. Fred Kirby II) still lives on a large tract next door to the Virklers 65-acre tract. Laura said that her grandmother got back up on a horse at Lauras boarding facility this spring for the first time in decades at age 87.
The Virklers nine-year-old daughter has a Welsh Thoroughbred Cross pony she rides along the seven miles of trails at Pleasant Green Farms, often with her mother mounted on her thoroughbred, Monty.
Our boys are constantly dirty and wielding hiking sticks pretending to be soldiers or Indians, Laura said. And there is always a fort being built some place.
Whats wonderful for me is, after a 30-minute, peaceful drive only two traffic lights Im home to a place where I can fish, swim and ride horses with my family, Drayton Virkler said.
Lauras children are enrolled at Durham Academy, a private school, which is a 30-minute drive away, as are many other private schools, including Carolina Friends School, Duke School for Children, Trinity School, Cresset Christian Academy, Saint Thomas More Academy and the Emerson-Waldorf School of Chapel Hill.
The public schools available for children living at Pleasant Green Farms would be Orange County Schools: Pathways Elementary, Charles W. Stanford Middle School and Orange High School.
For more information about Pleasant Green Farms, call North Carolina Estates listing agent Diane Lea at 919-929-2828 or Laura Virkler at (919) 475-1471.
Sally Keeney can be reached at email@example.com or 919-932-0879.
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