Rooterville: The love story of rescued farm animals and a Valentine’s Day brunch 6


Okay, so add this one to the long list of things I’ve been meaning to post. Still, it’s a beautiful tale, so I’m calling it better late than never.

Our adventures the day after Valentine’s Day took Mr. TOA and I out, way out, to a farm sanctuary that I’d been hearing a lot about. Rooterville was started by Elaine West on five acres in Archer, Florida. More than 300 animals now spend peaceful days on 20 acres in Melrose. They include rescued pigs, cows, chickens, horses, dogs, cats, goats and more.

Where do these animals come from? Well, you may remember the big bust of the illegal slaughterhouse in Miami-Dade back in March. Thousands of animals were being kept in unsanitary conditions, starved and drinking polluted water. Dead and dying animals blanketed the property. Rooterville was one of the rescues that stepped in to help. They’ve also provided a home to some of the pigs surrendered by a farmer, Bob Comis, who could no longer bear to kill them and homes to many animals who have been abandoned.

Lucy, one of the lucky piggies who call Rooterville home.

In addition to rescuing and caring for animals, Rooterville’s mission includes educating people about factory farming and the many health, environmental and ethical reasons to eat a plant-based diet. In fact, this year they’ve started Camp Rooterville, a weekend retreat for 8-15-year-olds, where the kids will get to spend time with the animals; participate in lessons and exercises in awareness and compassion; and enjoy healthy, plant-based meals. Rooterville also hosts school groups, offers tours and participates in a whole host of initiatives.

Of course as a nonprofit, they must continuously seek funds to support all of those programs and, most importantly, the care of the animals, so they host fundraising events like their fun annual Valenswine’s Day Brunch. On this occasion, friendly volunteers met incoming cars and helped with parking.

The Rooterville sanctuary at the end of a long dirt road…so peaceful!

The brunch was held in Rooterville’s lovely events barn. On the way in, guests could enter a raffle for some great prizes and drop off any donations they may have brought, like blankets or peanut butter for the animals.

The checkered tablecloths, centerpieces of red geraniums and adorable “Cupig” drink coasters were so inviting.

Elaine and her husband Dale welcomed everyone and gave a short slideshow presentation on the important work done at Rooterville.

Dale West, one half of Rooterville’s compassionate leadership, welcoming guests.

Then everyone got to dig in to the most delicious buffet brunch ever. Garden Truck catered the event with all of their customer favorites, like Chick-un Salad, as well as some special brunch dishes like “Crab” Cakes Benedict.

Ron Patak, of Garden Truck, saucin’ it up.

I had mostly finished before I thought to take a picture; it’s THAT good!

And, of course, there was plenty of champagne and local orange juice for mimosas. No one saved room for cupcakes, cookies and other treats…but we ate them anyway!

After the meal, guests ventured out to meet the residents of Rooterville. The pigs, as well as all the other friendly animals, were eager for belly rubs, head scratches, hugs and conversations. The pigs really seemed to be leading tours of their own!

These guys were so sweet!

Goats love scratches too!

All the animals came right up to visitors; they know they have nothing to fear from people anymore!

Piggy palaces in the shade.

The Rooterville Valenswine’s Day brunch is a wonderful event, but they host others (and others are hosted for them, like the upcoming Yoga Brunch Benefit) throughout the year, so like their Facebook page and don’t miss the opportunity to visit this sanctuary dedicated to loving animals!

A follow-up: Not too long after that slaughterhouse bust, Dale West passed away suddenly. We had just met the Wests, but it was very clear that they were a team, partners in every sense, and that Dale put his all into rescuing and caring for animals. His passing has meant that Rooterville is more in need than ever of volunteers and donations, financial and otherwise, so even if you can’t help by attending a fundraising event, consider the gifts of time, labor and some material comforts for the animals. Visit the Rooterville website for details and contact information.


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6 thoughts on “Rooterville: The love story of rescued farm animals and a Valentine’s Day brunch

  • Dawn

    What an amazing event! I will definitely consider doing that next year. I didn’t even know this existed. I’ll definitely spread the word about it!

    • The Organic Adventurer Post author

      Hi Dawn! Thanks for reading and commenting. You would love Rooterville, but don’t wait until next year! They have events all the time, and you can schedule a visit/tour too. Hmm, I didn’t think about it before, but that would be a great summer vacation activity to do with the kiddo(s)! Again, thanks for the comment…and for spreading the word about this great nonprofit!

  • Elaine

    Thank you so much for the kind write up about Rooterville and asking for help after Dale’s sudden passing. We are committed to fulfill Dale’s vision of sharing the message of compassion, hope and healing through a plant based diet and his dreams were big and so was his heart.
    Visitors are always welcome by appt, we’ll be hosting a Celebration of Dales life on June 6th with vegan food and sweets and look for a Hoe Down coming in the fall! Rooterville is not what it was with Dale here but we’ll do our best to make sure all of our guests have a great experience here! Thanks again!

    • The Organic Adventurer Post author

      Thanks for visiting TOA and commenting, Elaine. We enjoyed our visit on Valentine’s Day very much, and we are so sorry for your loss. As proponents of a plant-based diet ourselves, we are grateful that there is a place like Rooterville in Northeast Florida and want to encourage people to discover and support it. We’ll see you on the 6th.

  • Kim S

    What a great article!! Rooterville is near and dear to my heart and a very special place of refuge for animals. Compassion is what Rooterville is all about and something that this world clearly needs more of! You owe it to yourselves to come for a visit, meet these sweet gentle residents and experience all the goodness that exists at Rooterville. We must be the change we wish to see in the world ~ and Rooterville exemplifies this every day!