This month we are honored to share an interview with Adit Romano of Freedom Farm Sanctuary, a non-profit animal sanctuary based in Israel. With twenty years of experience in marketing and commerce and a background as an entrepreneur and businesswoman, Adit co-founded the sanctuary in October 2016 with Meital, who has a background in finance in high-tech industry Though the sanctuary is a non-profit, they credit their backgrounds with helping them understand how to generally run a professional organization. Today the sanctuary has more than 250 animals and also offers tours for children and adults.
Can you share more about the educational center you are developing that will especially cater to seniors, young adults with autism, youth at-risk, people with special needs? This sounds very interesting and also incredibly special as the first space of its kind in Israel as your site notes.
Adit: The mission of the sanctuary is to reconnect people with animals rescued from the food industries. We develop opportunities for people to meet the farm animals and discover that they are no different from dogs and cats. We believe that learning compassion toward animals helps teach compassion toward differently-abled people also, and helps to heal people. We see this in our special- needs programs. Twice a month, we have autistic adults who visit and volunteer to help with tasks and we see how positively it impacts their self-confidence. For example, they become less afraid of animals and of dirt. Here is an example of a visit they had at the farm that is very moving:
What can a person anticipate on a visit to Freedom Farm Sanctuary?
Adit: A visit to the sanctuary involves meeting the animals up close, discovering their unique personalities, learning their rescue and rehabilitation stories, learning about their brothers and sisters left behind in the food industry, and learning about the mission of the farm itself and our plans for the future. At the end of the visit, we offer a pamphlet with tips and information about making dietary changes to anyone who is interested in learning more.
The vegan ethos is incredibly strong and clear at Freedom Farm Sanctuary’s mission statement and “A Dream Come True” page at your website. Can you share more with us about the vegan ethos at the heart of the sanctuary as well?
Adit: At Freedom Farm Sanctuary, we believe in love, respect, and compassion-not only toward animals but to people as well-regardless of their dietary habits. We ask our social media followers and visitors to have compassion toward animals that previously were simply invisible-not like our cats and dogs-and therefore we understand that it is important to behave with the utmost respect to each and every person who comes through our doors. We believe fully that the ethical treatment of animals, ending their exploitation and enslavement, is key to becoming a more just and compassionate society. You can watch this to understand a little more about our mission:
We also encourage children to develop a healthy connection to animals through interaction:
Your site has some wonderful and very useful education links, to help open people’s eyes and inform them about animal exploitation. Can you share more about how the Sanctuary also functions as an educator within society?
Adit: Freedom Farm Sanctuary was created to be an education and experiential center. We understood that only through education will we be able to change long held beliefs, habits and traditions. We also knew that ‘far from the eye is far from the heart’ and that’s why it was important to us to create the opportunity for people to meet the animals up close once they have been rehabilitated physically, emotionally, and their trust in humans has been restored. The idea was to bring these animals closer to our eyes so that we can start to open our hearts to them. The farm is based on the belief that knowledge is power and that is why we provide a lot of information on the tours in the hope that doing so will help people to understand why it is important to challenge themselves to adopt new habits.
Can you share more about your location and how you chose the site where Freedom Farm Sanctuary is now?
Adit: The subject of land Israel is complicated because there is very little of it, and on top of that, the issue of agricultural land is even more complicated and involved. Despite this, it was important to us to open Freedom Farm Sanctuary in the center of the country-even if it meant the farm would have to be smaller and we would be able to rescue less animals. Being centrally located means more visitors, and at the end of the day, it is the visitors who will make the changes, not the animals. We tell everyone who comes here that each person eats between 3000-4000 animals in their lifetime. That’s why each person that makes a change in their dietary habits can save many more animals than we ever will be able to at the farm-no matter how many years we continue to exist.
Here you can see very moving rescue stories:
Visit Freedom Farm Sanctuary at https://www.freedom-farm.org.il/en/about-the-farm/
Feature & Interview by Annika Lundkvist at Pacific Roots Magazine Editorial Desk