How do you build upon a successful Peruvian culinary business? By raising alpacas and deploying the furry, friendly South American mammals as an antidote to Zoom fatigue and the pandemic blues. Seven years into running Peruvian Brothers with his brother Mario, Giuseppe Lanzone and his wife, Frances, wanted to pursue another outlet to promote Peruvian culture. They drew on their unique backgrounds (she worked in the Obama White House and has experience in event planning and international diplomacy; he is a two-time Olympic rower and former rowing coach at Georgetown) and spread out from a food truck to a sprawling 5-acre farm in Great Falls (rancholanzone.com). Their six alpacas (Pisco, Chaski, Rasta, Pica, Puno and Chévere) head out on field trips to kids, dubbed “alpacagrams.” Here, Frances shares the details of their Peruvian project.
What was the inspiration for the farm?
It’s partly an expression of Giuseppe’s Peruvian heritage, and the rest is built on our foundational truth that animals are therapy, especially alpacas, teaching us compassion, empathy, unity and balance. We were already renting alpacas and using them at events. When the pandemic hit, we said, “Let’s pivot and do something big; this is the rock, [and] we are going to flow around it.” We didn’t set out looking for this property, but it created the vision for us. We swayed the seller with a personal letter with our plans and promised to keep the endangered Hog Island Sheep and Myotonic Fainting Goats.
Alpacas are gentle, curious, intuitive animals—very much like kids. They wait for you to welcome them, and then they welcome you back, which creates this nice moment of connection. They are big but also very respectful of physical space; if you put them in a tiny corner, they know how to stand so none of them is stepping on each other’s space. They also have this grand, beautiful step about them.
What are your future plans?
We plan to renovate this property into a world-class venue for parties, weddings and Peruvian cultural celebrations and eventually a daytime nature school with beehives, bat houses and a butterfly garden. We may develop a few key wearables made from alpaca fleece to help our story, but it’s not about becoming a lifestyle brand. When we welcome visitors, the educational component will remain most important. But rather than being just one more farm that kids visit and leave and want to return to—which isn’t sustainable—we want to give the community the experiential enjoyment of spending time with an alpaca. On-site visits can actually be more powerful: bringing joy and enjoyment, giving your family and neighbors a truly unique experience.
This story originally appeared in our March 2021 issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our print magazine.