Harmony Farm Sanctuary Offers Lessons in Compassion

Farm Animals Find a Home

Article by Julie E. Furnas

Photography by Maile Mason Photography

Originally published in Bend Lifestyle

When visiting the Harmony Farm Sanctuary, you can immediately feel the love between animals and humans. Roaming the new 10-acre farm freely, the rescued animals are always happy to greet their caregivers and guests.

In 2020, this sanctuary moved from Sisters to Bend and was rebuilt from the ground up. The new location has a view of the Cascades, larger enclosures and is home to over 150 animals including, cows, horses, donkeys, goats, sheep, pigs, alpacas, a llama, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese and rabbits!

Their mission has always been constant, with a dedication to rescuing and rehabilitating neglected, unwanted and abused farmed animals, building a kinder and more inclusive community and advocating for a sustainable food system free from harm.

“In addition to rehabilitating and providing lifelong refuge for its animal residents, Harmony Farm Sanctuary is committed to doing its part in building a more compassionate world. Over the next few years, we plan to offer compassionate education programs, participate in community engagement events, assist in animal rescues and advocate in support of animal welfare policy,” explains Robine Bots, founder of Harmony Farm.

Bots’ idea of building a sanctuary started over ten years ago when she was having a conversation with her father. “I told him about my dream to build a farm sanctuary and to incorporate mental health therapy at a farm full of rescued animals,” says Bots. Rehabilitating a formerly abused animal requires patience and realistic expectations. Harmony Farm provides a stable and calm environment where volunteers strive to provide therapeutic experiences for the visitors while working to reduce fear triggers for their animals with a variety of techniques, providing the space and support for the animals to regain confidence and build trust with humans again.  

 Compassionate Curriculum

Harmony Farm has also been committed to working with at-risk youth since the beginning. Recently they added a new branch of the sanctuary called the Community Engagement and Advocacy Team (CEAT). This team includes several skilled volunteers who work directly with youth and advocacy. The organizer of CEAT, Carolyn Miller, developed "Compassionate Curriculum" whose motto is "learn, serve, grow" and is designed to help young people better understand their relationship with themselves, animals and the community. 

“We provide experiences for small groups that include learning about, interacting with and caring for our rescued farm animals. Our goal is that participants will learn that like us, animals are sentient beings and they have feelings and the capacity to experience joy fear, anger, pain and other emotions,” Bots states.  

With over 60 volunteers working with the sanctuary animals and several volunteers teaching their Compassionate Curriculum, the goal is for participants and visitors to learn to have more empathy, kindness and compassion for themselves, animals and other people. The curriculum also aims to help participants develop skills in verbal and non-verbal communication, planning, executing a task, leadership, consent, understanding boundaries, assertiveness skills, how to stay safe by paying attention, slowing down, breathing and being mindful. 

“We have been partnering with the Sisters Life Skills and Transition Program for the past eight years and other organizations like Circle of Friends, BRYT Future Program, Heart of Oregon Youth Build and Cascade Academy. We hope to partner with more organizations in the next year,” notes Bots.

Keeping it Local  

Since the very first animals came to the farm, community support has been the lifeblood of

Harmony Farm Sanctuary. Profits from merchandise and monthly financial support from the community help the sanctuary fulfill their mission of bringing rescued animals and humans together in a safe environment, where love and education are the cornerstones.

Since moving to Bend, Harmony Farm Sanctuary has been offering a variety of tours. The farm offers both group and private guided tours and emphasizes the fact that this is not a “petting zoo,” but a place where animals and humans can connect on a different level. There are new upcoming fundraising events and even a tiny home on the farm for overnight stays. A true ‘glamping’ experience, guests can sip morning coffee to the tune of roosters crowing and a gorgeous view of the Three Sisters Mountains.


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