GUEST OPINION – Farming for health

Sanctuary One is a "care farm" where people, animals, and the earth work together for mutual healing

By Robert Casserly
Posted: 2:00 AM January 16, 2012

One of the greatest influences in my life has been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His nonviolent activism to ensure equal civil rights for all Americans regardless of their race or creed inspired me to dedicate my life to nonprofit community service. As Dr. King’s life story demonstrates, even if we lack wealth or power we can still make the world a better place, if we have patience, perseverance and courage.

In honor of MLK Day today, I’d like to share my personal “I Have a Dream” vision.

I have a dream that every state in the U.S. has a care farm. Sanctuary One is the first. There are already thousands of care farms in Europe; in The Netherlands alone there are more than 1,000. My dream is that someday the U.S. will catch up to and surpass our European compatriots.

What are care farms?

Every care farm is as unique as the community it serves, but in general they are real working farms that demonstrate a new farming paradigm where health and human-service programs are a vital source of farm revenue; where animals are treated humanely and honored for their intrinsic physical and spiritual value; and where the environment that sustains us all is steadily improved through organic and permaculture-inspired farming practices.

I like to think that Dr. King would have approved of farming for health. At a commencement speech at Oberlin College in Ohio in 1965, Dr. King said, “All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

The Sanctuary is a real-life example of how three Ashlanders worked together to make a difference. Now there are thousands of people from all over the world working together to support it, and spread the seeds of hope and healing we are planting.

What’s your dream?

We warmly welcome you to join the Sanctuary’s if you are so inspired, but whatever it is, have trust in yourself that even small acts matter and can lead to great things.

For more information, visit Sanctuary One online at or find us on Facebook.

Sanctuary One Executive Director Robert Casserly moved to Ashland in 2001 with his family and was manager of Friends of the Animal Shelter for five years. He co-founded Sanctuary One in 2007, along with Ashland businessman Lloyd Matthew Haines and former resident Linda Champlin. He has a master’s degree in management from SOU (2007).

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