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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.