Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit Maui & take the Saturday morning tour at Leilani Farm Sanctuary of Maui, photograph the animals & Laurelee Blanchard, president & founder of the Sanctuary. I later followed up with a Q & A (below) with Laurelee. This was the first Farm Sanctuary I visited & it was quite special to see & feel the great energy & environment for the animals. Laurelee is also a stunning photographer so have a visit to the Sanctuary Facebook page & website to enjoy & show support!
Q & A with Laurelee
You were vegetarian for some time before going vegan correct? When did you go vegan & why?
I became vegetarian after watching undercover footage of factory farms and slaughterhouses. A month later, I learned that the egg-laying chickens are treated even worse than the meat chickens, and the milk-producing cows suffer even more than the beef cattle. With this knowledge, I immediately graduated to a vegan diet.
When did you move to Maui & what drew you here?
I moved to Maui in 1999. I chose Hawaii as the place to start my sanctuary because the animals would benefit from the mild climate, absence of predators, and plentiful rainfall to keep the pastures green.
Was the sanctuary always in Haiku & how did it come to be founded there.
The Sanctuary has always been in Haiku. This is where I found a suitable piece of property.
Have you been to any other sanctuaries in the world? Did any have a particular influence or impact on you?
I have been to other sanctuaries and my experiences at them influenced me to move to a farm and rescue farm animals.
The vegan ‘scene’ on Maui seems to be particularly exciting & expansive. Do you have any favorite places where you go to grab a snack or meal?
Maka, Maui Kombucha, Veg-Out, and Choice Health Bar
Do you think in the future we will see more farm sanctuaries being founded- across the Hawaiian Islands, throughout the USA as well as across the globe?
Indeed, the farm sanctuary movement is definitely growing.
Can you provide any words of advice or tips for those who want to volunteer or work on a farm sanctuary?
Sanctuaries are very much in need of volunteers. Those who help are providing a valuable service for the rescued animals and the people have the responsibility of running the sanctuaries. It is hard work, but very gratifying.
Can you provide any words of advice or tips for those who have a goal to start a farm sanctuary in their region?
Choose a location where there will be a lot of visitor traffic. Sanctuaries are dependent of visitors for funding. 95% of our visitors are from out of state. I wouldn’t recommend starting a sanctuary in an isolated region.
Make sure the land has the proper infrastructure in place and the zoning permits farm animals.
Be very careful to grow sustainably. Many sanctuaries get into trouble when they take in more animals than they can properly care for. It is difficult to turn away animals who need our help, but caution is advised.