Come and help with our non-profit animal sanctuary and organic greenhouses in Kealakekua, Hawaii, USA

  • United States
  • Favourited 1619 times
  • Last activity: 04/02/2023



 Min stay requested: 1 month or more



  • Description


    As of Jan 24, 2023 we are still looking for the following:
    1 femaie volunteer for April/May URGENT
    1 female volunteer for June and July
    3 volunteers for the August/Sept , Oct/Nov and Dec/January time frames.


    We finally reopened at the end of last January. We have made a lot of progress but there is still much to do to bring the
    Sanctuary back to pre-covid maintenance levels. This can be an extremely personally rewarding experience
    because of the animals and of course, the beauty of Hawaii. It can be challenging as well.

    Volunteers must be a minimum of 20 years of age. Volunteers will need to show proof of vaccination, including booster if appropriate. This protects not only everyone on the farm but the community as well.

    We request a minimum 6 week commitment (2 months even better) as it takes several weeks to truly get to know the animals and their care. If you are considering coming to the farm with the intent to leave earlier please consider another farm - you will not get on well with our culture of personal commitment and responsibility. We are looking for individuals with some experience in animal care taking, vegetable gardening, land management, living on a farm or volunteer service in animal settings or community gardens. We don't expect experts - we know that part of why you are coming to the farm is to get more in depth knowledge, but having some experience or exposure means that you have a true interest in the types of things we do here on the farm and that will make everyone's overall experience much more meaningful. We are also looking for individuals who are truly interested in learning about Hawai'i and the Hawaiian culture and not just interested in great Instagram shots to send to friends and followers. If the latter is your motivation to come to Hawai'i, this farm is not for you. If, on the other hand, you are truly interested in learning about the Big Island and Hawaiian culture (not aloha shirts and white sandy beaches, but indigenous values like learning through observation, listening and doing), this place might speak to you. If experiencing amazing critters up front and personal is appealing, and if you are vegan or vegetarian and want to develop more of your plant slant, then read on...

    The Sanctuary is a 4.5 acre organic farm located in Kealakekua on the West side of the Big Island of Hawai'i. It is managed by mom, Maria and daughter, Shawna. Our primary mission on the farm is the Animal Sanctuary. We also have 2 greenhouses in which we grow organic vegetables for the consumption of the folks here on the farm. We do not participate in Farmer's Markets. Nothing that our volunteers do results in any commercial product or enterprise. Period. We have a whole host of furred, haired, feathered, and scaled friends who also share our farm so anyone volunteering on the farm MUST LOVE CRITTERS! Our farm really is a sanctuary for animals. We are a non-profit 501 (c)(3). Everyone who comes to the farm enjoys the animals best of all - you will learn much about their emotional and social lives and we hope you will take this knowledge back out into the world with you to make the world a better place for all creatures.

    Volunteer time is spent feeding and caring for the animals, helping in the greenhouses, weeding and animal related projects. There are a lot of repairs and maintenance, as goats can be a bit destructive! Adorable. But destructive. We are in the tropics and the weather is harsh on fencing and structures so there is a lot of maintenance via painting and staining. Goat resting platforms and chicken enclosures can be messy so there is some real grunge work involved. The volunteer week is 5 days with 2 days off; a total of 25 hours.

    You must have medical insurance, a drivers license, and you should be able to lift 50 lb (23 kilo) feed bags. You must provide proof of medical insurance upon your arrival. Please do not apply if you do not meet this basic criteria.

    Kealakekua is very rural. Kainaliu Town is .7 miles (a bit over a kilometer) from the farm. There are second hand shops and some decent coffee shops and a dynamite gelato shop. (with a vegan selection every day).There is a very nice grocery within walking distance also. We are vegan and so the pantry we provide reflects this. Vegetarians are welcome also! There is a bus stop in Kainaliu that can take you to Kailua-Kona, and all the way around the island (this is a long trip!).

    We understand that volunteers coming to Hawaii are coming to experience the beauty of the Islands without surrendering all of their financial resources. However, we also assume that since you are selecting an organic farm housing an animal sanctuary managed by vegans that you share some of our same values. If animal welfare and organic agriculture do not place high on your list of essentials then this farm is not for you - please do not waste your time or ours. One of Maria's favorite mantras is, "The most important thing we spend is time, not money."

    *Maximum stay is 6 months

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Animal Care
    Farmstay help
    General Maintenance
  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Program participants wanting to improve their English language skills will have ample opportunity to do so. The Big Island is both ecologically and culturally diverse. We have 11 of the planet's 13 climate zones, and immigrants from many diverse backgrounds settled here and are settling here still. For people who are ready to listen, Hawai'i can teach an appreciation of more than beautiful sunsets and tropical landscapes.

    If you haven't had the opportunity to be a team player, this can be that opportunity. While our volunteer team is small - generally (ideally) comprised of 4 individuals (2 volunteers and Shawna and myself) you will hopefully benefit from being part of a small community dedicated to a worthy cause. Many of our volunteers are still in contact with us and with other volunteers from their team, years later.

    Program participants will learn the challenges of being organic and trying to be as sustainable and responsible stewards of the planet as we can be. Program participants have the opportunity to grow food that they can then consume. And most importantly, they will learn how to share the planet with a wonderful array of critters- most of which, no one else wanted - which is unbelievable when you get to see and interact with them. And we hope that our volunteers go back into the world and share the knowledge and love of animals they get here with others - to make the world a better place for all of us.

  • Help


    All year - We have geese, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, parrots, and (50 or so) chickens and roosters. We need help feeding/care taking the critters in the mornings and evenings. This is the primary mission - providing a safe, comfortable forever home for the animals with whom we share this magical place.

    A normal day starts at 7 am. The first task of the day is always critter breakfast. After breakfast there is watering and
    tending to the greenhouse. Those two items remain the same every day. Following that is the "task of the day." This covers a wide range and changes every day unless we have a multi-day project like building a shelter or fence. Some of the everyday tasks: weeding in the animal enclosures, harvesting bananas, weed eating the dog enclosures, mowing, cane grass removal, fence maintenance (e.g. staining, replacing boards), and painting goat or sheep structures. The last 2 hours of the morning are spent cleaning goat resting platforms, providing fresh water for the dogs, goats and pigs, and scooping dog poop - general animal care. After these chores are done the dogs, cats, sheep, goats, pigs, parrots, and fish get treats/snacks. Your morning ends at 11:30. In that time frame we expect you to take a 15 minute break. In the afternoon volunteers come back for critter dinner which ranges from 5 pm to 6 pm depending on the time of year. We allot 45 minutes for dinner but depending on various factors it can be 1/2 hour. You volunteer 5 days out of the week (25 hours) and get 2 days off. Coming back for the evening feed is different than most farms so please weigh this when considering our farm.

    One day of the week is designated as "clean up" day, both for animals and people. All of the animal food and water containers and the animal resting platforms are washed as are dog toys and dog beds/furniture. People clean up includes the bathroom and living and cooking areas. Cleanliness is mandatory at the farm. You might think that the use/possession of drugs, or jeopardizing the welfare of an animal would top the list of why volunteers have been asked to leave the farm but that is not the case. The leading reason why volunteers have been asked to leave the farm is that they couldn't clean up after themselves.

    All year - we live in the tropics in the Kona coffee belt. We get lots of rain and sunshine. It is not only perfect for growing coffee and a whole variety of wonderful fruits but weeds as well. We do a lot of weeding. We are organic so we mow, weed eat, and hand weed. It can be challenging. The sheep are terrific in weed management - but the goats and pooches routinely flunk weeding 101. Please do not gloss over this. Tropical organic agriculture is not easy!

    All year - we have greenhouses where we grow vegetables for farm occupants to eat. This involves daily watering, monitoring for bugs, weeding....and of course, harvesting and eating what you grow. We do not participate in any farmer's markets. There are no commercial enterprises conducted on the farm. In addition to the vegetables grown in the greenhouse we have a very large banana patch, guavas, pineapples, papaya, tangerines, oranges, lemons, limes, jaboticaba, and, of course, avocados. These are available at different times of the year and are available to our volunteers. We ask that you harvest responsibly, and remember that you are sharing with Shawna and myself and in many instances, with our critters. Our sheep and goats LOVE bananas, guavas, and tangerines. Our piggies adore avocados, bananas, guavas, and jaboticaba.

    Having prior experience with one of the following is a plus plus: weed eaters (battery operated are available ) or vegetable gardening or animal care.

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent

  • Accommodation


    Participants have sleeping accommodations in a large loft area on the second floor of the carport. It is rustic and charming. In the Gathering Place there is a kitchenette and provisioned pantry, dining area, and two sofas. There is no cable but we have a TV monitor, and many, many movies. There is a stand alone bathroom (lantern lit) with a hot shower about 100 feet from "The Gathering Place" and 15 feet from the sleeping loft. All other living spaces have electricity. Cleanliness is a must. Being a team player is important. Neat and clean!! Our 4.5 acre farm is completely fenced and we have 6 dogs which are a great alarm system so volunteers can feel totally safe. The food we provide is vegan. We ocassionally cook a vegan meal to share with our volunteers and provide a vegan pantry so volunteers can then prepare the rest of their meals on their own.

    If you think the Sanctuary might be a fit for you, please send us an email with as much info as you can as to why you feel you would be a good match.Some volunteers are looking for quietude and self reflection. Others are outgoing and adventurous. Sharing this type of information helps us match up volunteers who are traveling solo. If we think you would be a good match for the farm we will send you a detailed packet with photos, weekly schedule samples, and a lot of other info. We provide more info than most as we want everyone's expectations to match up as well. Please keep in mind that this is not an easy gig. Our expectations are high. You are responsible for the well being for a lot of animal lives. On the other hand, when you gain acceptance from some of our critters it is extremely rewarding as well.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We are located 1/10 of a mile above the main road which circles the entire island. Bus transportation is available for days off and activities abound. Swimming, snorkeling, and hiking are probably the most popular activities. If you are interested in immersing yourself in the culture and diversity of Hawai'i, this island is a great destination. There are opportunities to visit culturally important archaeological sites and Hawaiians continue to perpetuate their language and cultural practices. If you are a vegan foodie, surprisingly, the West side of Hawaii Island is becoming a wonderful place given the small population. We will also provide transportation into town for any items you may need/want. Laundry facilities are here on the farm. We look forward to sharing our knowledge of organic vegetable gardening and animal care and about this unique community.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    25 hours per week. Our farm is different than most in that you have to return for the evening feed on your volunteer days.

Host ref number: 517197735583

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