It’s difficult to put into words the emotions and feelings I felt on Sunday at the grand opening of Farm Sanctuary SA in Franschhoek. The first registered farm animal sanctuary in South Africa is a very special place and good vibes ooze out of every little wooden plank and straw hay bale.
Last year, I kinda participated in manifesting a move away from the farmlands I grew up in and around. Driving behind animals on their way to slaughter, hearing the screams (and smelling the smells) of the factory farmed pigs next door and seeing hundreds of dairy cows with massive udders limping down the road to the milking shed every single day, twice a day, broke my heart. I was operating on a level of extreme sensitivity and each day was a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Moving to the Cape has afforded me a greater measure of daily peace. Although we are technically living in the Stellenbosch farmlands, I’m more likely to be stuck behind a tractor and trailer carrying grapes, than a livestock truck carrying cows and pigs. This has been good for my soul I think, and my heart has healed. Living away from the frontline of animal agriculture has made me a more peaceful and understanding vegan. But it has also made me a shy one. I’ve found myself lately asking hosts to try and not mention that I’m vegan at dinner parties, or avoiding answering any comments or questions from people regarding my lifestyle choices. I’ve been a little embarrassed to be honest; afraid of offending people or appearing judgemental, and most of all, horribly conscious of my choices being an inconvenience to others.
The truth is, I guess, that being away from farm animals and no longer interacting with them every day, has made me disconnect from their plight. And that’s ok. Perhaps it’s where I needed to be this last year. It’s how I’ve healed and it has brought a measure of peace to my life. But yesterday, when I walked beneath the impressive entrance and up the driveway to Farm Sanctuary SA’s beautiful new timber barn, it all came rushing back to me. Rubbing Baloo the rescue calf’s big ears, seeing the resident rescue pigs snuggled up in the hay of their big, comfy stall and watching Romeo, the newborn rescue dairy calf, desperately searching for his mother’s udder and suckling at my fingers, took me straight back to my life in the Midlands; to my orphan calf, Marmite, to weaner calves being sent to feedlots, to pigs staring at me through the slats of transport trucks, to live goats tied down to the top of cars, to newborn males calves abandoned on the side of the road, and to chickens stuffed on top of one another like inanimate objects in plastic crates. My visit to Farm Sanctuary SA took me right back to why I’m vegan. It’s not to offend, it’s not to inconvenience, it’s not to be trendy, or to be healthy or thin (lol – shout out to the fat vegans), it’s for the animals. First and foremost. It always was for them, and it will always be for them. Because whilst I may be embarrassing to some, or maybe “a little too extreme” for others and perhaps a bit tiresome to everyone, what I most certainly am, is a being with a voice. And I will use it. Every day. And I thank Joanne and the team at Farm Sanctuary SA for reminding me of this. I’ve signed up to volunteer at the sanctuary once a week and I can’t wait to get down and dirty with the very reasons for my lifestyle change.
So what can you expect as a visitor to Farm Sanctuary SA? Think green fields, inspiring art sculptures and displays, a beautifully designed barn (with a loft where you can even sleep over), roomy pens for the piggies and calves, a big field and hatch for the chickens, a farm stall filled with yummy vegan treats and organic produce, a cafè serving the most delicious vurgers (choose between a quinoa or beetroot patty), and of course, the opportunity to enjoy delightful pig belly rubs and cow kisses. The Garden of Vegan Cafè and the sanctuary is open to the public on weekends and public holidays, but you can also visit the animals on weekdays by appointment. There’s ample opportunity to help (which you will want to do straight away, believe me) by offering to volunteer or through donations of cash or food. The passion for animals of founder and director, Joanne Lefson, can be seen and felt in every little detail – from the architecture of the building to the clever and inspiring copy of the pamphlets and volunteer forms. I fell in love instantly, and I know you will do too! So give the Farm Sanctuary a visit as soon as you can and show your support for the people actively seeking to make a difference to the lives of so many special beings.
PS: Did I mention there is a pig who can paint at this sanctuary? I kid not! Rescued from factory farming, Pigcasso has become something of a legend in the town of Franschhoek for her love of painting! Her original works (signed by her cute snout) are for sale at the Garden of Vegan farmstall and all proceeds go to the sanctuary for the rescue and keep of farm animals. Apparently she will be in Cape Town CBD today, so if you’re in the area, go say hi and meet this incredibly intelligent little soul. I think she is going to be a very famous little piggy soon.
Farm Sanctuary SA is located at the end of Dirkie Uys street in Franschhoek – simply turn right at the T junction onto the Elandskloof Private Road and then you will see the magnificent barn 100m up on your left. For map and directions click here. If you would like to make donations, click here.
Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh I cant wait to visit!!!
Thank you Kez for your continued honesty, about yourself and your journey. It is not an easy path, and yet, it is the easiest path of all. Honored and proud to be your fellow animal-loving friend!
Thanks my friend! You rock my world, as always xxx
I love what you have said and how beautifully you put it into words – this resonates with my journey to becoming vegan – it’s all about the animals ❤️
Always and always about them x
Absolutely loved this post Keri ? and can relate with so much! The sanctuary sounds amazing! It makes my heart smile to know that there truly are such incredibley inspiring people in this world!
Mine too! It’s so great! Thanks Taryn xxx
What a beautiful read. Thank you!
Thank you Marius 🙂
As always, great and inspiring read. Need to visit this place!!
Thanks Lalannie! You must go visit – it’s amazing!
And there’s even better news! As well as this fantastic new sanctuary which we visited in force on opening day and are overjoyed to welcome to the farm animal sanctuary family – there are at least three other registered farm animal sanctuaries in South Africa. We are hoping that we can join forces and work together to raise awareness about the plight of farm animals in this country. Pigs n Paws http://www.pigsnpaws.co.za is based in Gauteng and is home to over 250 rescued pigs as well as some other farm animals. My own sanctuary, Greyton Farm Animal Sanctuary, is based not too far away in Greyton. We opened in November 2013 and have over 120 animals including 50 pigs, 30 sheep plus chicken, geese, cats, dogs and rats! We are only on facebook at the moment on https://www.facebook.com/greytonanimals/. One thing we are very keen to get going everywhere, with the help of other farm animal sanctuaries, is humane education. We have a humane educator who goes into our schools every day and works with the teachers to implement a humane education linked to the national curriculum. We also have a community liaison person who supports the children within their community. She works with backyard livestock keepers to help them look after their pigs, cattle and sheep better and we collaborate with our local animal welfare organisation’s two outreach workers in our work with pets in the community. We also work with their inspector to confiscate animals in a very bad way who must get to medical attention quickly. We are linked to an environmental charity that I head, Greyton Transition Town, which doesn’t shy away from the fact that intensive farm animal agriculture is a key driver of climate change. We are looking forward to many collaborations with this wonderful new sanctuary – they are so good at marketing and promotion, something we are not good at and we have much to learn from them.
We are blessed to have so many wonderful people making a difference in this world! Thank you Nicola 🙂
A wonderful endeavor which has come to fruition, Joanne. We wish you every blessing for the future. Angela and Ivan Kline
Wow! At last. Sooo great to know that there are still such amaazing people in this world that makes such a BIG difference!! You rock big time!! Will defo come fora visit soon. Best of luck with everything 🙂
I have followed America’s “Farm Sanctuary” – Gene Bauer is the founder, as well as Edgars Mission in Australia and others and was wondering when South Africa’s most influential Vegans and game changers will stand together and start something like this in Cape Town and other parts of South Africa. So Happy to hear Farm Sanctuary South Africa is just a few miles away and we will have a place nearby to visit.
Thanks soooo much for this amazing effort – I really hope big law changers like Gene Bauer (activist and advocate for farm animals) can at some point come and visit and join hands with you guys.
Vegans are not isolated individuals. We do not stand alone – we are a community of plant-eaters, strengthened by our love and dedication for all earthlings (and most of all Farm Animals who are the most persecuted creatures on planet earth)
Oh my word! What a moving post…I loved that you acknowledged your disconnect, I love that you were brave enough to say enough is enough, I love that you verbalise your feelings of being an inconvenience – I’m still a vegetarian and one of the reasons – the one I tell myself – is that I don’t want to inconvenience the people around me (my mom) who is usually the one responsible for preparing the food in our household. Truth be told – I’m going to have to prepare my own food and take responsibility for making the changes like finding dairy replacements etc. So – thank you – this was a great motivation to become a vegan.
Baie dankie vir die goeie-nuus artikel, Baie dankie aan elkeen wat betrokke was en nog steeds is om LIEFDE te manifistreer met n gemeenskaplike droom. Baie geluk en Beste Wense.
Just read this and I cannot CANNOT wait to visit. What a special place, I can see it in every picture. So happy there are so many people doing such amazing things. Incredible.
but not a horse sanctuary yet or do these sanctuaries have horses/donkey or not at all ?
Not sure what you’re asking? This sanctuary now has three donkeys… and as far as I know there is a donkey sanctuary in the Cape too? Not sure about there being any horse sanctuaries in SA, as they are not bred for meat here. (although many failed racehorses do end up on the butcher’s block).
Thank you so much for what are doing for the animals and for our beautiful mother. I would love to come and visit soon.x
Ah THANK YOU!