Whole-body Health is the Focus at Yoke Farms
Just a handful of minutes outside Lansing, the loud and hectic hustle and bustle of urban life slips by and gives way to the region’s more pastoral calming beauty.
It’s in this serene setting where Yoke Farms harnesses its magic from the natural surroundings.
The health and wellness retreat and events center sits on 32 contiguous acres spread across three properties in rural Meridian Township, offering weekend and weeklong getaways as well as daylong clinics that help rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit.
“Michigan is a beautiful state, and I thought this is an opportunity where we could do something here for local people,” said Yoke Farms owner Kelly Eyde. “When you talk about the quality of life that people seek but can’t really seem to put together for themselves, I wanted to extend that opportunity to our community. People can find that here without having to travel a long distance to do it.”
Booking Yoke Farms can be done a-la-carte style from the website for the business. Potential guests can reserve whatever amenities meet their needs — from massage and yoga to equine events, wine-tasting and a personal chef. The retreat house itself is a five-bedroom residence that includes everything from a wealth of quiet spaces to a gourmet kitchen and an eight-seat theater with a concession stand.
Yet it may be the access to the outdoors that is the biggest attraction. With hiking and skiing trails and a saltwater pool available for recreationists, the property also includes chickens, peacocks, emus, dogs, cats, horses and a pond stocked with fish.
“That’s another option for people too. They don’t have to leave the property for anything,” Eyde said. “If they want to sit by the pond, I’ve got a waterfall out there with fish in the pond. They can catch and release or catch and take and eat if they wanted. I’ve got some good bass in there and some and some perch. I think I’ve got some sunfish in there, too.”
The goal of coming to Yoke Farms, she added, is finding rest and relaxation as well as making a new connection with the surroundings of nature.
“I’ve always felt that if you have a connection with nature, you are a little closer to your creator; and I feel that people are seeking that — especially during hard times,” Eyde said. “When their focus is on either their jobs or other big demands on them, they don’t have enough quiet time in their own mind to reflect.
“It’s about more than mental well-being,” she added. “It’s physical, mental, spiritual. On the spiritual side, when you connect with nature and animals, you start to incorporate that into your cells.”
The retreat and events center are just the latest additions under the Yoke Farms brand, which Eyde started in 2007, but the new amenities connect with her overall vision of living a healthier lifestyle.
“The history of Yoke Farms started about 15 years ago with my concept of incorporating good food into my living environment and then expanding on that. So, I started looking for anti-inflammatory foods or super foods,” Eyde said.
She eventually found that emu meat contains a high quality of lipoproteins and was a central part of the paleolithic diet. In addition to the meat, Eyde said that emu oil has anti-inflammatory properties, and she began marketing a variety of internal and topical lotions, creams and capsules containing the oil. She has since expanded her product line on the Yoke Farms website to include everything from emu leather and peacock feathers to CBD oil and peafowl.
“The people that have given me the feedback, they’ve come to me with chronic conditions — colitis, diabetes, high cholesterol, psoriasis, celiac, acne — and all of them have been able to manage their skin or their internal condition,” Eyde said. “My website has a blog where I’ve put together a lot of factual information about the quality of the emu oil, along with some research that the medical field has been doing throughout the world.”
Opening the retreat house for extended stays and the space for special events or educational clinics was a natural progression for Eyde, who has a background in real estate as part of the Eyde development, construction and management firm familiar to residents throughout Greater Lansing.
“I did property management for about 25, 30 years. Hence the reason why I leaned into farm management, property management, here,” Eyde said. “The apartments that I managed were sold … and I was in a comfortable spot that I could semi-step away from a rigid professional life and do more for myself on the farm.”
Eyde said she sees the retreat house being used for corporate gatherings, writing or books clubs, scrapbooking groups, yoga, and more.
“When you look at health and wellness, you’re looking at a pretty broad canvas,” she said. “I think a lot of people will just be looking for something where they can get away, for something exclusive and private, and away from mainstream everything — where you’re not driving through a neighborhood or a city or anything like that, where people could peer in on them.
“My neighbors are far enough away that they would never know who’s here,” she added.
For more information on Yoke Farms, visit yokefarms.com.