Visionary Eco-farming in China

Every so often we hear of stories that our work has inspired, with those people going on to inspire others. Justine Kwok is one such person who has a rather wonderful story to tell of her life and work in China.


As Justine shared with me a few weeks ago:

"I was born and raised in Hong Kong, left for boarding school in the UK when I was 12 and lived abroad for another 17 years studying psychology, French, fashion design and working as a fashion designer. I moved back to Hong Kong in December 2008 to start my own brand of vegan pet products and accessories.

I remember waking up on the first day of 2009, after having spent a pretty uneventful New Year's Eve, flipped through the South China Morning Post, and came across an article about your rescue of 149 dogs that were being smuggled across China. I was shocked by the dog meat trade which I was completely oblivious of at that point, and also deeply moved and shamed by the fact that you and your team had spent your Christmas holidays rescuing animals whilst the rest of us were having a good time. So I Googled you, found out about Animals Asia, emailed you guys right away and signed up as a volunteer. And this changed everything for me."

Justine went on to volunteer with our Professor Paws programme in Hong Kong, discovered the field of animal-assisted therapy and eventually pursued an on-line degree in Animal and Human Health Certificate at the University of Denver.

She goes on:
"It was beyond a dream knowing that I could do something meaningful with my love and passion for animals.  Around the same time my father started an organic farm in Zhongshan, China, with a few companion animals and the intention to build a small petting zoo.  I got on board when the animals started multiplying and the lack of proper management and veterinary care became serious concerns.

GRANDWINDMILLFARMAfter 2 years, we managed to build a pretty solid team of animal caretakers, vet consultants, a stable population of around 100 (mostly desexed) animals - rabbits, pigs, dogs, turkeys, chickens, ponies, mules and cats - with a good standard of welfare and quality of life for each animal. I also scrapped the idea of a 'zoo' and instead made it into a sanctuary in the sense that the animals are NOT there for our entertainment, and they will be safe and protected in our care for the rest of their lives.

About six months ago, we started offering our first animal and nature-based experiential programmes with the goals of nurturing love, respect, empathy and compassion towards non-human animals, and inspiring a more harmonious, reciprocal, holistic and sustainable way of living. In the future, I am hoping to offer animal-assisted therapy programmes to those with special needs."

EVAJUSTINEJILLEva from our Hong Kong office and I visited Justine's sanctuary in southern China last weekend and were so impressed with what she and her family stand for and begun. The farm and the sanctuary are both natural and beautiful, and the animals well cared for and enjoying their days.

The "Three Tenors" signalled our arrival, and gobbled in unison as we laughed.  These turkeys will never end up on a plate, and were happily enjoying a life of love and luxury in the great outdoors. Click on the image below to hear them in action!

turkeysJust next to the turkeys some of the pigs were enjoying banana tree trunks, while others lazed around in the sun.  One even came over for a stroke, and lay there belly up with eyes closed and smiling, as we scratched her on her tum.

PIGSThe dogs were housed in kennels and runs, with an array of enrichment toys, and a diet of everything fresh from the farm.  Lunar and Sol ran joyfully out to greet us when the gate was opened, and joined us in our walk around the farm.

JUSTINELUNARRabbits hopped on grass, and horses and ponies were rotated out into paddocks enjoying the fresh spring air.

The organic plants and herbs are a testament to the vision of the farm too, with an amazing variety of fresh and healthy vegetables that are sold on to the local hotels. These include: Italian dandelion, curly kale, radish, carrots, red lettuce, Wolfberry leaves and Swiss chard. In addition, they are growing some of the herbal alternatives to bear bile, and we're looking forward to displaying an education board that shows why these and the synthetic alternatives must be the future to replace caged and suffering bears in China today.

KALEJustine's staff and volunteers had some amazing stories too. Cristo Cheng and Shun Jeh (纯姐), the manager of the organic farm, had both left jobs in the business world to work full time on the land. Their passion for what they do is palpable and infectious, and it felt wonderful to join them, planting vegetables in this rich and pleasant land.



PLANTING 2To get just a small feel of this haven for people, animals and plants, please click on this video below that shows Justine's lovely sense of humour in a birthday tribute to her father.

ECOFARMVIDEOOne small sanctuary of peace and harmony that will hopefully grow and inspire others to do the same.

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