We Welcome You to Cracker Box Palace –
Cracker Box Palace is a registered non-profit, no kill farm haven in Alton, NY.that serves as the Large Animal Rescue for Wayne County and has an all-volunteer Large Animal Rescue Team. It is a unique place where farm animals of every kind come to recover from illness, neglect or abuse. Some of the residents come here due to struggling family circumstances, or because their owners can no longer give them the care they need. All animals are taught that they still have friends and families are assured that their beloved pets will not become someone’s dinner.
Once the animals are given necessary adjustment time and veterinary care, some will become available for new people to love through adoption or a foster care program. Some of our animals will never leave us due to their health, age or dispositions and will live their days out on the farm with love and attention from our small army of volunteers and staff.
Cracker Box Palace is kept running on a daily basis by our volunteers, staff, and board of directors, and funding comes from our sponsors, memberships,grants, services & items that are donated, along with events and fundraisers throughout the year.
How we started
One day in the early 1990’s, Walt Roloson, a lifelong lover and trainer of horses was called on to help a group of Saddlebred horses. At that time, Walt had been working with green and troubled horses for about 50 years. The owner of this once spectacular farm was aging and suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and the horses had fallen into neglect, shut into a barn from which some had never come out. They actually had to be taught to leave their stalls. Walt brought with him a few helping hands for the task. Among them were his daughter, Cheri, and her husband, Burt Madison.
Among the horses they taught to accept and lead on a halter that day, was a young colt. He had the kind of personality that makes some horses simply unforgettable. He was tall and gangly, deep copper red with a white stripe down his face, a “Can’t Touch This” attitude (even in his poor condition) and funny curved-in ears. This colt, later to become “Melvin”, was so weak that Walt had to trim his hooves while he was lying down. Melvin, and several other horses ended up going home with Walt that day.
It took Cheri three years to recover Mel to what he should have been, and the day finally came that Walt decided it was time for him to go to a new home. Suffice this chapter in Melvin’s life to read: Cheri cried, Walt caved, Cheri prevailed and Melvin wins. Cheri and Melvin were to be together evermore.
The experience of these horses and a farm animal abuse case in a town in Wayne County, NY involving 30 starved cows, a horse and an array of other barnyard animals showed Cheri that there was a need in Wayne County for help for these animals, when their people could no longer care for them.
Melvin’s arrival marked the beginning of Cracker Box Palace, a one-time 50-acre migrant camp. Burt and Cheri found the process so rewarding of working with Melvin and a few of his relatives, they decided to make a lifelong commitment of it. In the spring of 2001 the Palace opened officially. The list of residents has expanded from horses alone to include geese, ducks, chickens, peacocks, rabbits, goats, sheep, alpaca, llama, pigs, donkeys and cows. Many animals have enjoyed brief stays at the Palace, making new friends and receiving veterinary care before going on to their new homes. Others remain eligible for adoption, meanwhile staying comfortable, or are retired to the farm to live happy, in the safety and care of the workers of CBP.
By 2003, Cracker Box Palace couldn’t build fast enough for all the animals that needed homes, so members of the farm looked to a friend and supporter in Griff Mangan, who’s family owned Alasa Farms, a 627 acre historic Shaker Farm that overlooks Sodus Bay, just around the corner from the original farm. This farm had three big, 100 year old barns, several outbuildings, fields, orchards, and 300 acres of woods with plenty of room for stalls, pens, trails and pastures. Griff welcomed CBP to move to the farm and eventually, CBP would be the new owner of Alasa Farms.
In 2009, a devastating fire at the Main House and original Shaker building started CBP’s quest to buy the farm. Partnering with Genesee Land Trust who received a federal grant from the US Farm and Ranchland fund and Cracker Box Palace received funding through the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, along with a capital campaign run by Cracker Box Palace, the farm was finally purchased in 2013. Along with their quest to preserve and rescue animals Cracker Box Palace also pledges to preserve the history of Alasa Farms and preserve the 627 acre farm for generations in the future to enjoy and learn from.
Our Mission and Goals
Cracker Box Palace principals are focused on providing a fun and educational atmosphere dedicated to rescue, rehabilitation, carefully chosen adoptions and sanctuary for farm animals in need along with educating the public on humane treatment of all kinds of animals and the responsibilities that go along with owning an animal.
Educational opportunities for conservation, wildlife and endangered species, agricultural and history are also available through a most therapeutic setting using all the different aspects of the farm. Hiking and horseback riding trails, campgrounds, the Fairy Trail for the very young children, a nature trail that features a waterfalls and of course the historic buildings here at the farm serve as ‘classrooms’ to nature, environment and history for students young and old and also get people out from behind their screens and into nature and fresh air.
There is and always has been a calming and very therapeutic feel to Alasa Farms and it serves our visitors and community with an ideal place to ‘get away from it all’. Groups, schools and visitors are welcome to come to the farm either with private guided tours or with self-guided tours where folks visit at their leisure. Community service opportunities are abundant at the farm too with many groups, businesses and schools participating in work projects on the farm. From doing chores, animal care, bringing in hay, building projects or trail maintenance the list of work to do at the farm is never ending and the farm workers always appreciates the extra sets of hands to get the jobs done. The animals appreciate the extra hands to pet them and feed them treats!
Cracker Box also offers a program called Steady Work that provides young adults, 18 to 24 years old that are struggling to find employment, with a part time job while learning skills and getting services that will help them to eventually find a job or career for themselves.
There is a list of goals for the farm’s restoration and development that just short of a big lottery win would fund. Restoring the historic buildings including the Main House and keeping the old barns leak free and foundation firm are primary along with healing 300 acres of forests that were poorly logged in the past. Adding a maple syrup operation and store for fresh produce and Wayne County products, a handicapped accessible riding facility, more hay fields and many other projects are all on the ‘to do’ lists for the future of Cracker Box Palace. All this while still running the shelter can be attributed to the organization’s tireless volunteers and loyal supporters of the farm. The goals seem lofty but these strong willed, big hearted supporters of the farm and its mission continue to see the farm thrive and grow.
Our Thanks to ACTHA
Over 7 miles of trails have been built and more are being developed in our forests and around the perimeter of the farm which are used for our fun ACTHA competitions right here at the farm. Water challenges, hills, log crossing and grape vine navigation are just some of the all-natural obstacles with our terrain and the beautiful sites at the farm are a bonus to the horses and riders that come, along with our farm animals that also serve as obstacle challenges. Camping is available for participants and their horses at the farm. The ACTHA challenges that are held here at the farm not only serve as a great fundraiser, but also help us to spread the word of our mission across the nation. Plans are in the works now for our next ACTHA Challenge for July 30, 2016. We thank ACTHA for letting us be a part of their organization!