- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

ARCHDALE, N.C. (AP) - The Arcadia Lodge is the very last house on the end of an old street. It’s a quiet residence - aside from the scattered hee-haws of its two donkeys - nestled away from the road behind some trees and a pond.

Maria Valarie Taylor lives on the 10-acre property with her husband and while he works as a professor of nanoscience at UNCG, Taylor stays home.

But she is not one to relax and put her feet up.

Between caring for the nine outdoor animals, plus three dogs, working to further her vegan food manufacturing company and pressing for a unique campus in southwest High Point, she has her hands full.

The animals - five alpacas, two donkeys and two goats - stay in the hilly backyard in a large fenced-in enclosure.

“We just have male animals,” Taylor said. “They’re just animals that needed homes and won’t ever be eaten. It’s a little bit of an animal sanctuary.”

She said she rescued the donkeys, named Donkey Oaty and Sancho, from a poor living situation. The goats, Clover and Thistle, came from Craigslist. Because she and her husband are vegan, they wanted to save two male goats that would otherwise be used for their meat. The alpacas were previously owned by a couple who didn’t feel they were able to care for them anymore.

Downhill from where the alpacas rest in the shade of a tree, Taylor opens a door to the basement of the home and introduces her test kitchen. It is a large space with a center island.

She uses it to test new ideas for her vegan food line, Loving Spoonfuls LLC. She recently received permission to start selling a special kind of nutritious sauce, which she started testing with three years ago. She decided to call the line Nuchi Sauce.

“It’s called Nuchi because there’s a post-punk movement of vegans, which are kind of like a whole new wave of younger people that are in their twenties and thirties, who often called nutritional yeast ‘nooch,’” she said.

Because the yeast is present in the sauce, Taylor adjusted the way the word was spelled for her sauce so instead of beginning with N-O, it began with N-U, for nutrition, she said.

It started with a sugar free, fat free, gluten free and vegan sauce that was almost calorie free.

But after her son poured it along with maple syrup onto his vegan sausage one morning, Taylor got the idea for another flavor. This was quickly followed by a third flavor - smoky maple with habanero. She has the approval to start selling the first two flavors and hopes to get them on the shelves at Whole Foods, Deep Roots Market and Fresh Market.

“I like it on potatoes, or something plain,” she said. “It’s also good on vegetables, mushrooms, salad dressing and people tell me it’s the best on meat.”

In addition to the sauces, Taylor hopes to make a good vegan alternative to ice cream and chocolate and maybe baked goods someday.

“Our initial goal was just focusing on things going on here, but we’ve been trying to also promote a plan for High Point called FACTRI - the Furniture, Arts, Crafts and Technology Revitalization Initiative,” Taylor said.

Taylor said she believes there should be an alternative campus that’s more open in downtown High Point. She first came up with the idea six years ago, but after it didn’t take off, she put it on the backburner. Within the past year, she has started to build the initiative back up.

As an artist herself, Taylor wants to push for a large-scale movement to create a campus where people can come to learn more about cooking, gardening, mechanics, electronics, 3D printing, painting, woodworking and furniture design. It would work as a community space for members, and even students, for university credit, to explore their ideas.

“It’s an innovative vocational campus and incubator for makers and hackers with non-exclusive focus on furnishings,” Taylor said.

She said there is a little momentum with the initiative now, but it will need a lot more to get off the ground.

“It may not happen,” she said. “The chances of this happening are really, really small.”

Regardless, she is continuing to push for its creation. She said it supports her belief that everybody should be life-learners and her unschooling approach to education. All of her children were “unschooled,” Taylor said, until they went to college. Today, one has had two shows at the Smithsonian Museum and paints with her mouth. Another is a filmmaker and musician in the band Neutral Mug Hotel.

Even though her children have left the house, it isn’t rare for the lodge to have a dozen or so people in it. Once a month, Taylor hosts a monthly vegan potluck at her home. She said most of the people who come to the potluck are not vegan, but are just curious about the lifestyle.

“Vegan - some people think it sounds like it religion or something because it’s a whole lifestyle,” she said. “We’re just herbivores.”

Vegans refrain from eating animal products, not only meat but also eggs and dairy products.

Among the many projects, chores and personal endeavors Taylor is reaching for, shes knows which one comes first.

“Right now, my priority is trying to develop my food products to the point where they’re launched and then I can focus on doing the other things,” she said. “I absolutely have to prioritize.”

___

Information from: High Point Enterprise, https://www.hpe.com

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