Last weekend, we welcomed friends far and wide to one of our most popular celebrations of the year – Farm Sanctuary’s annual Hoe Down, at our New York Shelter. For more than 20 years, this epic weekend event has united thousands of people across the globe, who strive to create a more compassionate world for all. An ideal getaway for both longtime vegans and the veg-curious, the Hoe Down serves as a compassionate forum for positive change, inviting us to consider how we can expand our impact and make a difference.
Benedict goat is another fan favorite; here, photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur shares a smile with this sweetie. From Benedict’s resilience to sheer joy for life, there is so much to love about him!
Cameron piglet was one of the weekend’s biggest stars, and loved all of the attention he received from his new friends!
Camping out on the lawn: a beloved Hoe Down tradition!
The weekend boasted delicious meals, including seitan sandwiches and Beyond Meat “chicken” salad for Saturday’s lunch.
On Sunday, our speakers participated in a round-table discussion, fielding guests’ questions about living compassionately.
Susie and friends take a hay ride back to the Visitor Barn after Sanctuary Time on Saturday.
With plenty of compassionate discourse throughout the weekend, there was ample takeaway for how we can continue to extend compassion to others wherever we may go.
Through inspiring presentations and discussions, delicious food, quality time with our rescued residents, and a little dancing to boot, guests were transported to a place where compassion is normal and is a quality to be celebrated. Here, strangers quickly become friends; and surrounded by these like-minded individuals, guests walk away revitalized and prepared for the next chapter in their journey.
For many individuals, the Hoe Down is a safe haven – a reprieve from a world where being vegan is not the norm. But armed with new tools, experiences, and allies, they take these lessons home with them to spread
messages of compassion amongst others, and especially, within themselves. With the power of community at our backs, we are unstoppable – and just as the clatter of Sunday’s rainstorm would not drown out our speakers’ voices, we will likewise rise above mainstream noise to give farm animals the voice
they so deserve.
Here are just a few highlights from the weekend’s festivities – we are thankful for all of our staff and volunteers who helped make this a memorable event for all; our speakers for inviting positive discourse; and of course, our guests, for supporting Farm Sanctuary’s lifesaving rescue, education, and advocacy
work and for helping us change hearts and minds about our relationships with farm animals – and one another – everywhere.
Hoe Down emcee Victoria Moran — founder of Main Street Vegan — kicked off the weekend with an energetic invitation to embrace compassion. Victoria primed the pump for the inspiring talks that were to come!
Up first was Sonia Faruqi of Project Animal Farm. Sonia talked about her investigative work around the globe, and her experiences on Canada egg and dairy farms in particular. Sonia emphasized the importance of treating others with compassion — even when our views may differ drastically. She also opened the door for discussion about meeting people where they are. Most importantly, she said that we should also focus on where we are at any given point — to be gentle with ourselves on this journey, and to realize that our best is good enough.
National Shelter Director Susie Coston gave a riveting talk about the animals who call Farm Sanctuary home, focusing especially on our recent rescues in New York’s Hudson Valley and Cattaraugus County. Guests were inspired by the animals’ tales of resilience after tragedy…
…and after a delicious vegan lunch…
….they got to meet some of these incredible ambassadors for their species for themselves!
Bruce offered a friend some loving nuzzles.
Cameron piglet was undoubtedly the fan favorite, and delighted guests with his happy, friendly personality — and cute looks, of course!
Getting to know some of the residents in our turkey pasture…
…and showering Merlin steer with some much-appreciated love.
And of course, giving their undivided attention to Min and Lulu goats, who despite getting bigger…
…are still up for some fun and games with their humanimal friends!
Afterwards, it was back to business with Jonathan Balcombe, who gave an inspiring talk about our relationships with “fishes” and his new book, What a Fish Knows. Jonathan’s talk invited guests to consider extending their circle of compassion to include fishes, who are just as sentient and have rich emotional lives just like the animials here at Farm Sanctuary.
Next, director Allison Argo and Farm Sanctuary President and Co-founder Gene Baur discussed Allison’s upcoming project, The Last Pig — a documentary about Bob Comis, a former “humane” pig farmer who decided that this line of work did not align with his compassionate values. Allison gave a heartfelt talk about Bob’s movement from pig farmer to veganic farmer; his struggles with anxiety and depression; and
stigma ripe for reduction within the animal rights community. Allison also
shared a couple of clips from the film, which is in its final stages and
promises to be a heartbreakingly beautiful piece about our relationships with
And during a relaxing cocktail hour featuring Treeline — the artisanal nut cheese
company which recently provided a generous match for all sponsorships of Cashew calf — guests also
had the opportunity to interact with our speakers, get their books signed, and
forge lasting connections.
Jonathan Balcombe meets a compassionate friend.
Meeting Zoe Weil, who presented on Sunday.
Gene signs a copy of his latest bestseller, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life
Afterwards, guests enjoyed a delicious spread of vegan fare (some exclaimed how wonderful
it is to not have to ask if the food is vegan!) and dessert, before settling in
for some after-supper inspiration courtesy of Gene. Then, some of our guests
stuck around for our popular barnyard contra-dance party before calling it a
night and preparing for the next day…
A relaxing evening — good food, good friends, good times!
Enjoying an inspiring wrap-up talk from Gene.
We started off bright and early with an inspiring presentation from investigative journalist Will Potter, who spoke about his journey to investigative work and his new book, Green is the New Red. Will
gave an insightful glimpse at how animal activists have been framed as the bad
guys in recent years, stressing the importance of the work we do, and imploring
that we continue to have the courage to listen to our hearts.
Victoria Moran took a break from her emcee script with a powerful talk about her journey to building Main Street Vegan, and offered practical advice on how we can spread compassion and joy through vegan living.
By this time, the rain was so loud that we had to pay close attention to what was being said — but the rain was no match for Zoe Weil, co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education, who gave important advice on empowering ourselves and others to create a more compassionate world for all. Zoe asked us to imagine a world where we can say we have contributed to the positive changes that have taken place — and offered tools and strategies to help us on our journey in making this world possible.
Kalfin rocks his new look.
Extending a hand — and a yummy grassy treat — to our turkeys.
Cameron remained the star of the show — how could anyone not fall in love with him?
Giving one last chin rub to Skye before heading home!
Following an inspiring round-table discussion, our guests enjoyed one more round of “Sanctuary Time” before concluding another inspiring Hoe Down celebration. Thank you to everyone who made this event possible — we hope to see you next year!
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