Kindred Spirits Care Farm is on a mission to promote farm animal welfare and sustainable agriculture one community garden at a time. The Los Angeles-based non-profit integrates with established high school farms to modernize their practices and teach the students about compassion, nutrition, animal care, and plant-based farming.
Kindred Spirits launched four years ago through the sheer determination of its Executive Director, Karen Snook. “This organization is a dream of mine,” Snook said as she lovingly hugged a giant goose named Wilber. Its first location, John R. Wooden High School in Reseda, has been fully converted into a robust ‘care farm’. The program includes an animal sanctuary, a greenhouse, and an outdoor edible garden with a learning center.
All animal residents are rescues, and many roam free on the spacious wood-chipped grounds. Those on a tour can feed the pigs, alpacas, and geese – who knew they all love baby carrots? Despite the difference in species, the animals interact peacefully with each other, though they generally stick to their kind. “Like attracts like,” Snook said. The farm houses at least two of every animal so that none feel isolated and all have the opportunity to embrace their instinctual social characteristics.
The second location at Canoga Park High School presents more of a challenge. The 100-year-old school is home to a 1.5-acre working farm that has traditionally been used as an educational butchery. The students participating in the farm club were taught to raise animals as agricultural commodities, eventually slaughtering and butchering the animal for food. Throughout the past year, Kindred Spirits has slowly helped the school to transition away from these inhumane practices and move toward more compassionate education. As of early 2018, no animal has been butchered at this school. Further, Snook is working to create a pre-veterinary education curriculum to teach interested students how to care for animals for the entirety of their natural lives. Not only will this save dozens of animals, it will also give the students an advantage prior to entering college, as few pre-vet majors have received structured experience in this field.
In addition to abolishing the slaughter practices at Conoga, Snook has also established key changes to improve the welfare of the school’s animal inhabitants. She has advocated for additional space for the pigs, cows, and horses, and over time, her requests were granted. She also works closely with the farm directors at the school to educate them on modern and humane animal welfare practices.
Snook essentially runs a one-woman show, tending to both the garden and animals at the two farms on the daily. However, she has gathered a passionate volunteer group to help keep both farms operational. Both individuals and non-profits are encouraged to volunteer; anything from a Sunday afternoon or a few hours a week can make a difference. The non-profit also survives off donations. Those interested can give a one-time amount or sponsor an animal of their choice.
Image Credit: Kindred Spirits Care Farm