In 2018, Beryl Lynn was in the midst of a separation and had a clear idea of where she wanted her life to go. “I envisioned a safe place where I could live in harmony with the land, with my children, providing sanctuary to animals both domestic and wild, grow food for our community and live a lifestyle that was more about production than consumption,” she says. That vision has been realized in a cove of land in Mars Hill, where Beryl has founded Wild Heart Farm and Sanctuary. Not long after purchasing the land, she met her partner, Matt Pike, who had similar dreams. The two have been living on and developing Wild Heart since last summer.
Wild Heart’s mission statement is “to create a land stewardship model that provides sanctuary to farm animals in need; and to create a sustainable, healing haven for our community.” A nonprofit farm and animal sanctuary, Wild Heart is home to 35 animals, including horses, donkeys, goats, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, dogs and cats. Most of them came from cases of neglect or abandonment. “All of the food that we grow is beyond organic and will be available to anyone in our community, despite their financial situation,” says Beryl. “Folks can pick up produce either for free or by donation. We are the only farm that offers this because we value food security and believe that healthy, naturally grown food should be available to everyone. We also host events with sliding-scale donation pricing. Community, inclusiveness and soul purpose are what drives us.”
Wild Heart’s mission has been dramatically impacted by the pandemic. The dozen volunteers that were active at Wild Heart have dwindled to one, leaving Beryl and Matt to handle the many chores related to Wild Heart’s animals, infrastructure, pastures and half-acre garden plot. “We went from full momentum and excitement to overwhelming anxiety, because these things need to be done regardless of what’s going on in the world,” says Beryl. “The animals still need to be fed and cared for, the gardens still need to be planted and tended to. They are financial and time commitments that don’t stop because of COVID-19.” The farm had to cancel a sold-out indigo dye party scheduled in April and donations, their main source of funding, have almost disappeared.
Beryl also recognizes that the pandemic will likely increase demand for fresh, affordable food, and the Wild Heart mission is more important than ever. Beryl has started a GoFundMe campaign to scale up the farm operations and serve the community in this time of need. “We are here to create real change, not only for ourselves, our land and the animals that live here, but also for our community,” she says. “Wild Heart is a place for healing and sanctuary for all.”
To learn more and make a tax-deductible donation, visit WildHeartFarmSanctuary.org/support. Wild Heart is also on Instagram @wildheartfarmsanctuary.