Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary heads for High Falls

Kayli, Mike, Maybelle.

Kayli, Mike, Maybelle.

The Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, a haven for rescued cows, goats, turkeys, and other abused livestock, is pulling up stakes and moving 30 miles south to High Falls. The sanctuary’s 23-acre property in Willow is up for sale, along with a renovated farmhouse that serves as a bed-and-breakfast for sanctuary visitors, and the recently purchased 150-acre Epworth Camp and Retreat Center is being prepared for the animals and their caretakers to move this spring.

The new location’s acreage will provide insulation from neighbors, who have complained in the past of noise, crowding and odors, and plenty of space to shelter more animals and welcome visitors on a whole new scale. “We just celebrated our 10-year anniversary in 2014, and we’ve grown beyond this property,” said Brown. “We had no idea we would grow to this size and be as popular. We draw thousands of visitors in the summer. Part of what we do is to get people in touch with these animals who are out of sight and out of mind except for what’s on their plate. We raise awareness about the plight of farm animals, especially those who dwell on factory farms, who have been turned into commodities but are thinking, feeling beings, just as much as our cats and dogs.”

The Willow neighbors will likely be relieved, and so will the sanctuary staff. “Woodstock limits us to only four events throughout the year, which hurts our ability to raise funds and host outreach events,” said Jenny Brown, who co-founded and continues to run the organization with her husband, Doug Abel. “We can have only two school buses a month and no coach buses which, unfortunately, are the only kind that have bathrooms, which is a problem for field trips for kids and groups coming from a distance. If there’s one car outside our parking area, neighbors will hide in the bushes and take pictures.”


Epworth served as a Methodist camp and retreat center for 55 years and before that was Dreamland Farm, a Socialist summer refuge for New Yorkers. The property features a dining hall, lodging, and a picturesque barn, which the sanctuary is renovating, turning the lower level into a medical treatment facility for the animals, many of which arrive in poor health. More barns and fencing are going up. Proximity to New Paltz, with its university, and to New York City, just 90 miles away, are also advantages, since one of the organization’s missions is to reach out to youth, and many supporters come from the city.


Raising $2 million

The move was announced on January 14 at a $150-a-plate benefit in Manhattan to launch the raising of $2 million required to fund the relocation, renovations, and payments on the mortgage. The Willow location will no longer be open to the public, and Brown hopes to be open for weekend tours in High Falls by the summer. The name will be shortened to Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, with the tagline “A sanctuary for animals and people too!” Despite the new location, Brown observed, “Woodstock is a state of mind.”

The website is being revamped and will be ready to take donations within a few weeks, when the strategic capital campaign is launched. Brown remarked, “This move will allow us to save more lives and raise our profile to reach more hearts.”

There are 2 comments

  1. Suzanne Fessenden

    Sounds like a win-win. The sanctuary benefits many, but it long ago outgrew the Willow space and the neighbors had every right to complain. You can’t very well be demanding rights for one group while stepping on the rights of another and think that’s okay, can you? Humans created zoning laws to protect humans. And it was a good idea. And slowly, because animals needs their own protection laws and can’t create and enforce them themselves, humans are doing to work for them. Change takes time but honoring existing zoning rules while you effect change does not.

  2. Former townie

    Spot on, agreed. The hypocrisy I’m dubious of the new slogan – it’s been far from sanctuary for the majority of people who lived or work(ed) there, that’s well established.

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