A young Laurie Zaleski never thought she would own 25 acres of a farm with over 600 rescued animals happily and freely cohabiting.
As she puts it, “you never know what life is going to throw at you, so you better be ready to grab it and go with it,” Zaleski says.
Zaleski went to graphic design and illustration school and owns her own business in the field, but admits that she never thought she would be a farmer.
After the untimely death of his mother, who always dreamed of owning a farm, Zaleski decided to “make his dream, my dream”, and bought a property in Mays Landing and started saving animals while using it. fulltime. to support the farm for its first 12 years. Then Zaleski decided to become a nonprofit organization to help cut feed costs when it started to exceed $ 4,000 per month with 150 animals at the time.
“People started to say, ‘Are you open to business or to volunteers? I thought, ‘Are you crazy? This is my home ‘, but of course that’s what I had to do, ”Zaleski says with a laugh.
“There are about 10 people who always come, but I have four people who are here every day or so during the week. We are open every day for volunteers, although we are only open on Tuesdays and Sundays, ”Zaleski says. Although it is open twice a week, Zaleski still works full time and the animals need to be fed daily.
Now the Funny Farm Rescue & Sanctuary is free for everyone, donations are welcome however. The farm is popular with families, students and anyone who wants to come and see animals such as cats, dogs and horses. Zaleski also takes care of unique animals such as emus named Emily and baby Connor, and a skunk named Stinky.
Zaleski says his farm is more than just a farm. It is a way of teaching children, and even adults, that despite our differences, it is still possible for us to understand each other.
“I’m saying if all these different species can get along, why shouldn’t you? Zaleski said, explaining that the pre-COVID Funny Farm had been booked with several schools to have discussions about accepting others for who they are.
There are currently four books written to date by Zalenski and co-author Matt Reeves on Funny Farm.
As for plans for the future, Zalenski has expanded his farm from 15 acres to 25 acres, to better accommodate animals and guests. Ultimately, she wants to install a goat barn and a reception center to facilitate parking and entry into the property.