Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sneak Preview of Animal Place Sanctuary

Who: VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland
What: Sneak Preview of Animal Place sanctuary
Where: Grass Valley, Calif.
When: April 3, 2011
Why: To connect with animals while hanging with friends

The Scoop: A weekend away can do wonders for the soul. I love to escape to Santa Cruz, Mendocino, or anywhere where I can relax, eat great food, and connect with nature. My dear friend Allison Rivers Samson (the founder of Allison's Gourmet) invited me to her home in Nevada City, Calif., to spend the weekend with her family, and I jumped at the opportunity. Two days of balmy weather, strolls through the quaint Gold Rush town, long chats with Allison and her husband, and the company of their adorable four-year-old vegan daughter? I'm in. As if the weekend couldn't get any better, we spent Sunday afternoon getting a pre-season peek of one of the country's largest animal sanctuaries, Animal Place.

Rescued chickens and turkeys roam free at Animal Place.

Having moved to its new location just last year, the picturesque 600-acre farm is dotted with rolling hills, peaceful meadows, big red barns, and hundreds of rescued animals. We frolicked with rabbits, rubbed pigs' bellies, chatted with chickens, and waddled with turkeys. Their stories are heart-wrenching—whether victims of research labs, slaughterhouses, or hoarders—but the animals find life and hope again at Animal Place. They learn to trust, they bond to new animal friends, and they are free to walk, spread their wings, and live out their natural lives in peace.

Pigs are extremely affectionate and can't get enough belly rubs!

Animal Place Co-founder Kim Sturla and her team are working fast and furiously to prepare the sanctuary for visitors (of both the two-legged and four-legged variety). The property, a former cattle ranch, is being transformed into a beautiful haven for rescued animals which will also feature guest houses, an education center, and an extremely impressive four-acre veganic garden. Visitors will be able to tour the grounds, take a cooking class, volunteer, or stay the night. It's a true escape for everyone involved, and when the sanctuary opens again for visitors (most likely this summer), book a trip to this heavenly spot in the Sierra foothills. Nothing feeds the soul more than looking into the eyes of an animal who has a second chance at life.

Allison, Kim, and Colleen enjoy the lush surroundings at the sanctuary.

P.S. Grass Valley and Nevada City offer plenty of veg options, but our favorite is the family-run raw-food café, The Fix. We savored a portobello burger and raw sushi, along with coconut-ginger-lime milkshakes. Don't miss it!

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