San Diego Animal Sanctuary & Farm (SDASF) is the new name for the 20-acre animal sanctuary in Alpine, previously called Children’s Nature Retreat.
The 6-year-old animal haven is home to more than 200 animals, who would otherwise have nowhere to go. The sanctuary is home to 30-plus different species and 70-plus distinct breeds of domesticated livestock and exotic animals from around the world. They have been inherited through a variety of reasons, including previous owners who could no longer care for them, moved, or passed away, and in some cases, the animals have been abused, neglected and/or abandoned.
“We decided to rename the farm to better reflect who we are and the work that we do, and also, be more inclusive to all of our guests – big and small, children and adults – everyone can benefit from the animals and our outdoor experience,” said Agnes Barrelet, executive director. “Visitors are constantly telling us what a special place we have, but we realized that some were not coming because they did not have children or understand what we were all about.”
After six years in the making, the working farm now has a vegetable garden, orchard, compost, and worm casting. They hope to start selling to the community and feed some of the animals the organically grown fruits and vegetables on site. Barrelet strongly believes in sustainability and her team is working diligently toward making that dream happen.
The farm will still host its many educational programs which enrich the lives of children, adults, and all guests. With summer approaching, admission sales tend to decrease, even with school field trips and youth organization day camps scheduled. The farm needs the support of the community to keep its animals fed and doors open to the public.
SDASF is now launching a $5 monthly fundraising campaign to raise much needed funds. The monthly contributions will ensure: 1) animals are fed and cared for, 2) stability for the farm’s dedicated team, and
3) doors remain open to the public. “It takes a village to provide for our animals,” added Barrelet.
The last three years have been exceptionally challenging for the farm, between the pandemic and the Valley Fire. However, inflation has proved to be the most difficult to overcome. There has been an increased cost for the animals’ feed and supplies (hay that was $19.50 a bale is now $33), as well as a dramatic increase in veterinary costs due to end-of-life care, surgeries, rattle snake bite, injuries, and illnesses. These unforeseen extra costs contributed to the depletion of the nonprofit’s reserves. SDASF’s monthly operating budget is now $50,000.00.
“If 10,000 animal lovers donate $5 each month, the farm would thrive! It will allow for more keepers, better enclosures, higher wages for the dedicated team and, most urgently, repairs to damaged shelters,” said Barrelet. Donations can be made online at www.SanDiegoAnimalSanctuaryandFarm.org/Donate
Visits to the farm also help provide care and financial support to the sanctuary. SDASF is open seven (7) days a week, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There are family packages and senior, first responder, military, and teacher discounts. Single day admission is $38 for adults and $20 for kids (children under 2-years are free); seniors (65+) are $28. Parking is complimentary. To buy tickets, visit www.SanDiegoAnimalSanctuaryandFarm.org/product-category/tickets.
For more information on the Retreat, visit www.SanDiegoAnimalSanctuaryandFarm.org or call