November 29, 2022

Farmshire Animal Sanctuary

Photo: Calen Ann Otto

By Calen Ann Otto of

Visit Farmshire’s website, Facebook page, Instagram & Patreon  

It All Started with One Little Pig

Many of us dream of a world where nature, wildlife, animals, and humans can live in harmony. Whether you believe it can happen or not is a personal matter, but I’ve always looked for that harmony, even if only in a small place or community.

Dharma the pig, Farmshire Sanctuary, Photo: Calen Ann Otto

By Calen Ann Otto of

A year ago, while attending an animal rights conference, I woke up to see a stranger’s face sitting on the couch across from me. At the time, I had no idea that the person I was looking at had the same dream as I did and was one of the founders of Farmshire Sanctuary near Asheville, NC.

While having no idea what Sarah Windle or her work was all about, I expressed to her that I was trying to move closer to Asheville and wanted to do some sanctuary work. Oddly enough, I was talking to the very person who helped turn that dream into my everyday reality.

Wildlife at Farmshire Sanctuary, Photo: Calen Ann Otto

These days you will now find me at Farmshire Sanctuary, a non-profit animal sanctuary located in a small town called Clyde. Farmshire was truly sprouting when Sarah bought a potbelly pig, who at the time she thought would stay small forever. Sarah eventually realized that that was a myth, and made the connection between Dharma the pig and the animals that are farmed for food. Eventually, Sarah embraced veganism with her friend Tim Burdine and Farmshire was born with the intent of rescuing abused, unwanted, or abandoned farmed animals.  In addition to taking on this task, Farmshire became strongly committed to changing the system that made their rescue necessary in the first place.

Sarah Windle with Chloe and Gwendoline, Photo: Calen Ann Otto

This is What We’re Made of

Education, activism, and sustainability are what make Farmshire what it is and lends to its lush and robust feel. It’s almost as though all of these ingredients make up, what we believe to be, a pretty phenomenal recipe for changing the world. Our Farmshire team has their boots on the ground when it comes to animal rescue, responding to cruelty calls, and taking in sick animals pulled from places of neglect.

The Farmshire Rapid Response team responding to Nebraska flooding, Photo: Calen Ann Otto

We also have our boots in the water, as last year two members of our team went out into hurricane Florence as rapid response to rescue farmed animals. We understand that everything that we are called upon to do and help take care of is in response to human choices and activities. We believe that an important part of healing our communities is raising public awareness of animal agriculture issues through different forms of education and activism.

And while we try to share what we’ve learned with the world around us, it wouldn’t make sense if we didn’t also commit ourselves to healing the planet through more sustainable systems on the sanctuary. Farmshire is currently 50% off the grid with the hopes of being closer to 100% in the future. One of the homes on the sanctuary was built by Sarah Windle and Tim Burdine out of cob, recycled materials, and natural resources found on the property. The cob home runs off of solar power and gets water from nearby spring, also providing a home to our rabbit, Bilbo Baggins.

Gwendoline posing in front of the cob house that she helped to build, Photo: Calen Ann Otto

Tim has also set up various gardens at the sanctuary so that we can feed ourselves and supplement a small part of the animal’s diet with food grown right at the sanctuary. He is always striving to be less wasteful, work in harmony with the earth, and create a more eco-friendly atmosphere on the sanctuary. 

The pumpkin part of the food garden at Farmshire, Photo: Calen Ann Otto

While strolling through the garden, it’s almost impossible to miss the large pumpkins that are growing larger in preparation for an event where folks get to visit the sanctuary and feed plants to their favorite pigs!

This Is Who We Are

In addition to four humans and Bilbo Baggins, the sanctuary is home to a variety of other residents. Farmshire provides sanctuary to 1 turkey, 2 llamas, 5 chickens, and 11 pigs. The numbers can get confusing, as sometimes Ethel the turkey is convinced that she is actually a pig because she prefers to live with 3 pot belly roommates.

Dharma Sue, our eldest pig with Ethel the turkey, Photo: Calen Ann Otto

All of the animals on the sanctuary have come from places of abuse and neglect, but still choose to love and trust humans any way.

Because so many of these animals grew up at Farmshire with affection, snacks, respect, and lots of belly rubs, their true personalities are able to come through, crystal clear, as each animal has their own relationships, stories, personality quirks, and needs.

Apple the spunky pig taking an afternoon nap, worn out from eating too many apples, Photo: Calen Ann Otto

This Is What We Do

In 2018 we added 10 new rescued residents, helped to foster 34 individuals, and provided placement and transport assistance to over 100 farmed animals displaced through hurricanes, hoarding situations, factory farms, and cruelty cases.

Chester llama patrolling the barn area, Photo: Calen Ann Otto

This year alone, in 2019, we’ve added two new farmed pigs to our family and helped coordinate a rescue of over 250 neglected pigs. Although the rescue work can be heartbreaking and even scary at times, it is impossible not to look into the eyes of other animals and ignore their suffering.

Delores the pig enjoying the afternoon sun, Photo: Calen Ann Otto

This Is Who We Are – All Of Us

We often hear that it takes a village to raise a child. The truth is, it takes a village to do a lot of things. It often takes a caring community, coming together intentionally, to create positive change in this world. The work that we do is only possible because of the time, energy and emotional support that our friends and community continue to offer us.

We’ve learned that the more support that we have, the more we can expand and embrace our community and earth. The more that we can impact the lives of others, and in return, add magic to our own.

Sarah says, “Being able to provide these animals a sanctuary to be happy, safe and free is so rewarding, but we unfortunately cannot even come close to saving them all. We rely on their stories, hoping to affect how society views animals typically viewed as food. They are ambassadors for the billions of farmed animals that were not as fortunate as them.”

Editor’s Note: Thank you Calen for sharing your coverage of Farmshire Sanctuary & readers, please visit them online at

Podcast V: Biocyclic Vegan Agriculture

Editor’s Note

Welcome! Launched in Summer 2019, Pacific Roots Magazine is a platform devoted to issues of veganic agriculture, sustainability, plant based food & more. We welcome you along for the journey as we explore, learn & develop further awareness about this home we call Earth. 

International Biocyclic Vegan Network