Ayers legacy lives on

Before my employment I thought to myself, “Why is this place SO busy? What is SO special about it?”

I have been employed at the Lands at Hillside Farms for a little over a year, and I am finally understanding why. Just like any other business, we have our regulars who come in daily for a CMP or maybe a hot fudge sundae. We have others who stop by when they have an opportunity, living in state or even in another. I’ve come to a realization that the feeling when you walk into the store is like no other. You are hit with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia, along with aged charm and of course, a new look at life on the farm. I think that is why we lure people of all ages, young and old.

The Lands at Hillside Farms is a historic, non-profit dairy farm with a mission of making sustainable, healthy life choices. Teaching everyday work ethic and life lessons are something that is executed every single day on the farm, night and day. The property has a a lot to offer, such as a mercantile shop, dairy store, countless barns and animal housing, greenhouses, a cottage, and to top it all off, an old fashioned ice cream parlor tucked into the dairy store.  The Lands are a hidden gem in the valley, just minutes outside of Wilkes- Barre.

The center of attention on the four-hundred thirteen acre land is a large, three story cottage nestled in the hilltop. This was originally owned by William Conyngham, a wealthy business figure in the coal industry. The structure is elegant with everything from a grand staircase to a wrap around porch- fit for a king.

Recently, the lands have had to overcome a difficult situation, the loss of a prominent figure on the farm. Dr. Doug Ayers, 56, had lost his battle to leukemia in early September after years of fighting.

Dr. Ayers was a very smart and educated individual, attending King’s College and veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania. To continue his education, Doug worked at the most prestigious schools from the University of Texas all the way to Harvard Medical School. He was a veterinarian, and started his own animal hospital in Plains, and later opened Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital.

“Dr. Ayers was the most perfect example of a servant leader,” says executive director Chet Mozloom. “Beyond his veterinary work and the lands, he was a founding member of the North Branch Land Trust, a board member of the Luzurne County Flood Authority, and a member of the state board of Vet Medicine.”  He had worked on the farm since 2005 as a volunteer, and was never employed by the lands. Doug gained respect and was highly admired on the farm, eventually working his way up to president and chairman of the Lands at Hillside Farms’ Board of Directors. “Doug’s love of life and respect for the environment and all living things was demonstrated daily in the way he lived and causes he championed.” (Legacy.com)

Ayers was very passionate about many animals on the farm. Helping every being  from chicks to horses, he was especially heartfelt about the cow herd. As a result, the lands have organized an event called “Dr. Ayers Dream.” This event runs on donations that you can give in store or online (https://www.gofundme.com/dr-doug-ayers-dream) to aid in the building of a new bed park barn. For every $1 raised, an anonymous donor will give $2. This barn will be located near the education center and will include an observation deck to welcome all visitors young and old.

The loss of Dr. Doug Ayers will be a loss mourned for years to come. Doug made an impact on everyone on the farm, from a friendly handshake to aiding the animals who long for his treatment. His legacy will continue to move forward for years to come. Thank you Dr. Ayers! Your work here on the farm is greatly appreciated by all.

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