Reasons to Love Minnesota No. 182: Farmaste Animal Sanctuary

A vegan retreat for furry friends

The 80-acre Farmaste Animal Sanctuary in Lindstrom is the largest farm animal sanctuary in Minnesota. Founded by franchise developer and lifelong animal lover Kelly Tope, it has one mission – “to help farmed animals become someone, not something.”

When the nonprofit opened to the public in June 2018, it housed three cows, three sheep, and three goats. Today the sanctuary is a forever home to five cows, five goats, six sheep, and five pigs — many of whom we met on a recent visit.

There was docile Timothy, the blind cow who’d had his eyes removed following an untreated case of pink eye, and sweet Steel Magnolia, a gentle cow with a spinal deformity. There was Iggy the Goat, who was found grazing the suburban streets of Inver Grove Heights, and Buffy, a slaughterhouse escapee discovered in an industrial stretch of St. Paul. And let’s not forget Blue, a sheep born with a congenital deformity that required vets at the University of Minnesota to amputate one of her front legs. Now she’s a wobbly but happy tripod.

Tope’s vegan beliefs permeate every aspect of the sanctuary. When the sheep are sheared, for instance, the job is done upright, not with the sheep flipped on their backs. The wool is then disposed of in the nearby woods for other creatures to use in their nests, not sold at market. Tope isn’t preachy about her vegan doctrine, but hopes to grow her sanctuary to 40 or 50 animals, including ducks and chickens. (Plans to build a coop in 2020 were delayed by the pandemic.) Volunteers are always welcome.

To learn more about the nonprofit and meet Timothy, Iggy, and crew, schedule a weekend visit. Tours take place every Saturday at 1 p.m. through Halloween. Reservations are required and your $10 donation goes “directly to the care of the animals you meet.” Note: While this is a fantastic family activity, kids under 5 are not permitted in the cow and pig enclosures. The 75- to 90-minute tours are limited to 10 or fewer guests and masks are required.

To make a day of it, stop for brunch en route at Tomatoes Restaurant in Stacy. Friendly chef-owner Juan makes a bangin’ breakfast burrito stuffed with carne asada, hash browns, eggs, homemade salsa, and Chihuahua cheese. (Vegetarian options are available.) Order it to go or eat at one of two sidewalk tables. Post-Farmaste, swing by Pine Tree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake, which has a corn maze, pumpkin patch, and all things apples.

Farmaste Animal Sanctuary
12812 347th St., Lindstrom, MN; 651-400-0097.