Greyton Farm Animal Sanctuary (GFAS) is a 100-acre former farm that has been converted to a forever home to orphaned, sick, disabled, abused, neglected or retired farm animals where they live for their full natural lives with all their needs met. The rescued animals roam freely across the farm during the day, returning to their paddocks to feed, shelter or sleep. The sanctuary also reaches out to the greater Greyton community to promote compassion for all sentient beings.
GFAS started life in 2005 shortly after Nicky Vernon and Rohan Millson purchased Tabularasa Farm, just 7 kms outside the village of Greyton in the Western Cape of South Africa. They built their homes out of straw bales and clay. The farm is off the grid and solar-powered. This focus on self-sufficiency led Nicky and Rohan to launch the Greyton Transition Town Initiative in 2011 with the aim of building a resilient, sustainable community that enjoys security from rising energy and food costs and that promotes eco-health and well-being.
Nicky and Rohan also started rescuing farm animals starting with lambs being born in the fields surrounding the farm and that had been left to fend for themselves. The neighboring farmers allowed them to keep the weakest lambs to be raised at the farm and rehomed there permanently. However, it wasn’t until November 2014 when the idea of creating an official farm animal sanctuary was born – initiated by two events.
The first was the arrival of Bella the pig, a pet who had outgrown her home in Kalk Bay and who had attracted the attention of the municipal authorities. A home had to be found quickly and she was welcomed to the farm. Word of Bella’s relocation spread and soon other mini-pig owners, who had discovered that their pets were anything but mini, approached the farm for help. Six weeks after Bella’s arrival, Nicky found a black and white heap (a newborn calf) lying in a field below her property. She brought it to the farm and provided milk (and colostrum) but the calf died later that night. Nicky called him Heaven and buried him the next day and decided to dedicate her remaining years to do all she could to reduce such tragic and unnecessary suffering.
GFAS became a registered South African non-profit organization (187-044-NPO) in 2017 and is now home to nearly 150 rescued animals who receive regular veterinary check-ups and care. Absolutely no breeding of any animal is permitted in the sanctuary. In addition to GFAS’s farm sanctuary endeavors, the organization now is expanding its vision to embrace its community and environmental settings by emphasizing how the animals, the land and the human communities are interrelated and dependent upon each other.
To that end, GFAS along with the Genadendal schools have initiated “The Genadendal/Greyton Education Project.” This initiative aims to address the high rates of HIV infection, interpersonal violence, and unemployment in the local communities. The project design focuses on teaching local children about the Fynbos Ecosystem (and its environmental importance), training young people how to track baboon movements and prevent human-baboon conflict, teaching sustainable and healthy nutrition, and encouraging all communities in greater Greyton (about 11,000 people) to move towards greater sustainability via local initiatives such as the use of eco-bricks and mini-wind generators, the development of a green dumpsite, the development of small-scale vegetable farming, the spread of humane domestic animal care and the restoration of local landscapes to their original state.
For the benefit of the public to relieve the suffering of any animal in need of care and attention in the Republic of South Africa with particular emphasis on farm animals and to provide and maintain rescue homes or other facilities for the reception, care, and treatment of such animals.
“To promote humane behaviour towards animals by providing appropriate care, protection, treatment and security for animals which are in need of care and attention by reason of sickness, maltreatment, poor circumstances or ill-usage and to educate the public in matters pertaining to animal welfare in general and the prevention of cruelty and suffering among animals.”