United Poultry Concerns
United Poultry Concerns was founded by Karen Davis in 1990 and is home to over 140 rescued birds. The chickens in her care have been rescued from laboratories, cock fighting operations, shelters and factory farms. Karen has worked tirelessly for decades advocating on behalf of chickens, turkey and other birds. An author, speaker, and well-known farmed animal activist, Karen has made great strides in bringing awareness to the plight of these birds to the general public. For instance UPC led an initiative to place ads on buses in both San Francisco and DC with the slogan “what wings are for” with a picture of a loving mother hen cradling a small chick. After our tour we got the opportunity to spend an extended amount of time with several of the hens who were friendly and affectionate. They were especially interested in Jen’s black shiny boots! Karen was generous enough to give us a large quantity of several informative pamphlets developed by UPC for educational outreach which we look forward to distributing at our upcoming vegan bake sale.
Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary
In order to fit in two sanctuaries today we were on the road a little after 5AM but the early rise was well worth it. We arrived at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary with the sunrise and were given a tour by co-founder Terry Cummings. Terry and her husband Dave moved onto the property in 1987 and were renting a place in the main house. At that time, dairy cows were being raised on the farm by another tenant and Terry & Dave became very attached to them. One day they heard loud bellows of distress and when they ran outside to help, saw the cows being brutally treated by men who had come to take away the male babies. Male calves born to dairy cows are taken away from their mothers at a very young age and are raised for veal, where they are kept in extreme confinement and isolation before an early death. When Terry & Dave saw the reality of what life is like for these cows, they went vegetarian and soon thereafter vegan. Eventually the owner of the property donated the 400 acres of land to the sanctuary where they now provide a loving home to around 200 animals. On our tour we met the rambunctious calf Mikey who was saved from the veal industry and saw the sweet tenderness of a mother goose building a nest for her newly laid eggs. Poplar Spring places eggs from their rescues in the woods for the wildlife on the property and gives the wool from their sheep to a local Audubon society for use in bird nests. It was such a joy to meet Terry and the residents of Poplar Spring.
PIGS Animal Sanctuary
Sheperdstown, West Virginia
Our morning visit to PIGS Animal Sanctuary in Sheperdstown West Virginia was a wonderful experience. Executive Director Melissa Susko took time out of her busy schedule to introduce us to many of the wonderful residents. Levi the pit bull helped lead the tour and we had a great time meeting Oliver the pig who thoroughly enjoyed having his belly rubbed. Pigs enjoy human affection much similar to dogs and can form lifelong bonds with humans and other animals. Melissa has done a remarkable job revitalizing the sanctuary over the past 18 years and works extremely hard to provide a comfortable home for the 500 sanctuary residents. As we work to build The Refuge we hope to remain in close contact with Melissa and learn from her years of experience in this field. After a great tour we headed to the quaint downtown area of Sheperdstown where we ate at a wonderful vegetarian cafe Mellow Moods recommended by Melissa.
Full Circle Farm Sanctuary
317 Grovewood Dr, Burnsville, North Carolina 28714
Unfortunately Full Circle Farm Sanctuary had to cancel our tour at the last minute. We were disappointed to not be able to include them in our regional tour. We hope to visit them some time in the future.
Goat Mountain Ranch Sanctuary
Leicester, North Carolina
We began our day traveling from Asheville to Leicester to visit Goat Mountain Ranch Sanctuary. The founder, Rob Levy took us on a thorough tour/hike of the grounds before it started raining. He founded Goat Mountain in 2003 after purchasing the mountain-side property and taking in animals here and there at the request of friends and neighbors. Now over 50 residents live at the sanctuary and he has helped to find loving homes and foster families for over 600 additional animals. Rob welcomes tour groups on the weekends and has volunteers who help with animal care from time to time. He coordinated the collection of tried and true vegan recipes and has created a cookbook to help provide guidance to those new to vegan eating. When visitors come to the sanctuary Rob likes to explain the difference between a farm and a sanctuary. “A farm is a place where animals live for humans, a sanctuary is a place where animals live for themselves”.
Find their vegan cookbook here: http://www.goatmountainsanctuary.org/merchandise/
Animal Haven of Asheville
Asheville, North Carolina
Our second stop was at the peaceful and idyllic Animal Haven of Asheville, where founders Barbara and Trina have been rescuing animals for 14 years. We really didn’t want to leave, as we were so warmly welcomed by so many of the animal residents (in particular, Clyde the friendly goose who enjoyed sitting in our laps). Barbara and Trina took time out of their busy schedules to give us a full tour of the 10 acres of paradise, complete with pond, peaceful stream, and dotted with mini-red barns serving as homes for most of the 100 residents. Animal Haven welcomes school groups and visitors of all kinds and also runs a well stocked thrift shop where all proceeds go to the sanctuary. If you find yourself in the Asheville area, this sanctuary is definitely worth a visit!
Chicken Rescue & Sanctuary
Union Mills, North Carolina
Our first stop was a visit to Chicken Rescue and Sanctuary, run by Annamaria & Paul Bowman. Annamaria gave us a tour of the chicken yard, where they currently house over 45 chickens and roosters. The Bowmans started rescuing birds in 2009, and only recently have developed a website and began to be more public about their venture. Fed on a diet of organic poultry grain (free of hormones and pesticides) and fresh fruits and veggies, the rescues under their care each have a name and distinct personality. Among them was Robin Hood the rooster who was doing an excellent job of looking after the lady hens under his watch. All animals are unique individuals who deserve to live full lives free from unnecessary suffering. Even chickens used for eggs are eventually killed on traditional farms, and most live out their short lives confined in battery cages where they are given less than a sheet of paper’s worth of space to occupy. Please choose a compassionate vegan lifestyle that avoids needless suffering. Need help making the transition? Contact us and check our our resources and recipes on our website under “Veganism”.
Chocowinity Chicken Sanctuary
Chocowinity, North Carolina
Our regional sanctuary tour ended with a visit to Chocowinity Chicken Sanctuary run by Kay and Jim Evans. They started the sanctuary in 1996 and currently house around 60 birds rescued from shelters, individual owners, and factory farms. In the past Kay was able to rescue many more birds from factory farm who were unwanted by the industry. In recent years however, these companies have limited access to Kay and other rescuers. This is because consumers have become more and more concerned about the well being of animals in these industries which has prompted the industries to propel Ag-Gag laws that block public access to factory farms. This response is a testament to the horrors that farm animals face behind closed doors. Kay introduced us to all of the residents and was very generous to share her knowledge and past experience working with these amazing animals. Chocowinity Chicken Sanctuary tables at local festivals with pictures, displays, and pamphlets illustrating the treatment of farm animals in factory farms.
After 5 days, 1,590 miles, and 7 sanctuary visits we have concluded our journey and look forward to applying what we’ve learned to our work at The Refuge. As we work to bring in our very own first rescues and continue to build our organization we hope to keep in contact and work alongside many of these fantastic farm animal advocates.
The Refuge is being built with the help and support of an entire community, and we are incredibly grateful to everyone who has pitched in to make our work possible. In that same spirit, a group of us are embarking on a journey that seeks to further expand our community to include farm animal sanctuaries throughout our region. As we travel over the course of 5 days to visit 8 separate sanctuaries, we will be striving to learn, share and make connections that we hope will strengthen our region’s already impressive presence of farm animal advocacy. As we visit each sanctuary, we’ll publish a post about our experiences that will be linked to the corresponding barn in the above map (our travel route is clockwise in direction). We hope you’ll follow us as we travel to meet new friends and forge new relationships based in compassion towards all beings!
Jennifer, Lenore & Jordan