For The Love Of Animals

San Diego Animal Sanctuary and Farm 4

San Diegan Agnes Barrelet said her life changed 10 years ago after seeing the Matt Damon movie, “We Bought a Zoo.” The San Diego Animal Sanctuary and Farm started on 20 acres almost a decade ago as a dream she had. She dreamed of a beautiful place in nature where families could come to spend quality time together. She dreamed of happy animals living freely and without fear or stress. She dreamed of giving people a unique experience, spending time with animals they may not otherwise get to enjoy. Agnes brought her vision to life in the hills of Alpine, rescuing over 200 animals in need of a home over the last 8 years and established biological gardens to provide for the animals and the public.

The organization is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation and revenues to maintain operations are generated through visits to the farm, community events, donations and its most important event of the year, the annual DiscoBall fundraiser gala coming up on March 8, 2024 at the Bahia Hotel and Resort. The farm has overcome numerous obstacles since inception, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the devastating Valley Fire and now inflation. The support of the community allows the farm to strengthen, grow, and thrive for generations to come.

The farm, which is open to the public seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm, also teaches children about the importance of compassion, respect, and patience. The farm is a grounding space for children and adults alike, where disconnecting from the digital world allows for full immersion into the present. “Our guests immerse themselves in the peacefulness of the farm. It helps them recharge and reset, take a step back and reflect. It is a place of love and peace often called a hidden gem,” Agnes shared with GB Magazine.

As the organization grew and evolved, it developed programs including on-site field trips, school presentations and private camps to promote experiential learning all year round. In 2023 alone, the farm’s educational programs reached just under 3,000 students. The farm was honored to work with the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA, different homeschool groups, Make-a-Wish Foundation, and the Children’s Discovery Museum in Escondido, just to name a few.

The goal for 2024 is to reach more corporations, organizations, and benefactors to enhance the grounds and programs. The annual fundraiser gala “DiscoBall 2024” is fast approaching, and the team is calling for CEOs, business owners, community leaders and philanthropists, who love nature, animals and education to join for a memorable evening and help the farm exceed its fundraising goals. The gala will allow you to meet others in our community who truly care for the welfare of animals, as you enjoy an evening complete with DISCO dancing! The gala is the organization’s opportunity to thank and acknowledge its benefactors and share its past, present and future work. The proceeds will directly impact the animals, students and families, and secure financial reserves for the upcoming year.

Agnes and her team are passionate about what the organization achieves and see its mission in action every day. The farm invites every nature and animal lover to visit and get inspired this New Year.
For more information, please visit

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Esteban Villanueva