Gentle Barn Sanctuary
Good morning from Chattanooga, Tennessee! This is episode 023 of “Two Vegans on a Mission” podcast. Thank you for joining us today! We’re going to talk about three different places that we camped at this week.
One is an Air Force Base FamCamp. Another is a Harvest Hosts site, and the third is a Good Sam park in the heart of Chattanooga.
Then we’re going to tell you all about our visit to “The Gentle Barn” farm sanctuary, as well as our visit to a working farm in Oldfort, Tennessee.
Finally, we’ll review a vegan restaurant we found in Chattanooga. So thank you for joining us and stay tuned.
Welcome to the Podcast
Welcome to the “Two Vegans on a Mission” podcast. I’m Louisa and together with my husband, Michael, and our dog, Sugar, we’re traveling and living full-time in a Winnebago Class C Motor Home. We’re visiting animal sanctuaries and animal rescues all across the country.
Each week we’ll share what new camping spots we found, what great vegan meals we’ve eaten, and our latest vegan outreach activity. So please, join us as we strive to inspire, educate and support you in your efforts to be vegan.
Arnold Air Force Base – Tennessee
So, first up, we’re going to talk about our trip to Tullahoma, Tennessee from Huntsville, Alabama, which was right across the border…actually about 50 miles. We found the Arnold Air Force Base FamCamp using Michael’s Military All-Stays app. And so he’s going to tell you how he found it and why we decided to go there.
So we also use a traveling app by All-Stays and they actually have an app for all the military DoD facilities that are available. So we check everything when we’re traveling for interesting places to stay.
The Arnold FamCamp is a really small RV campground that is located outside the city of Tullahoma. Arnold Air Force Base is approximately two miles up the road and our understanding from people around here let us know this one of the smaller Air Force bases in the Department of Defense.
We when you use this RV camp you have to initially check in at a different location where the campground is which is at their Outdoor Recreation Center, approximately a mile away. They’ll get you checked in and they have a lot of rental gear and equipment. Also, you won’t have access to, but they also have a beautiful family housing area in that area.
But down the road is a magnificent beautiful lake. It is stunning when you drive into it. Now here’s some interesting issues about this camp. One is it’s an older Air Force camp. When you drive in it’s an all gravel approach and there is gravel throughout the entire camp. So you have to take it very slowly.
I believe all size RV rigs can fit and the spaces are adequate. There are a couple of pull-throughs, but most of them seem to be back-in spaces. All the spaces, in our opinion were not at all level. So bring your leveling blocks!
But here’s some of the positive stuff about this very rural, RV camp. You get to be on a quiet and magnificent lake. You see people in their bass boats… you see, I would imagine during the summer, people can get out and swim and enjoy a private lake. You just can’t get that for under $30 anywhere else in the United States.
Okay, so the restrooms were adequate and what I mean by that is they’re old but the showers are absolutely hot and they were private. The entire couple of days we were there only one other person came in while I was taking a shower. That’s a little unique. I know that may not be of interest to a lot of people but it’s nice having a beautiful lake and private showers!
Also, the laundry was absolutely free! We love free. So some other things you should know about at Arnold Air Force Base is there is a commissary and exchange. Well, there is but that’s down the road on the actual base itself. Please understand this is a small Air Force Base and the commissary and the exchange were very small as well. They’re closed on Sunday and Monday.
All in all, I would absolutely recommend the FamCamp at Arnold Air Force Base.
The actual town of Tullahoma was about a 15 minute drive up the highway. We went there to go get some propane as well as stop at the local Starbucks so that we could use some internet. The Wi-Fi on the FamCamp was not very good and we needed to be able to upload the podcast and do some editing of the blog post. We needed to have a place to sit down and do that.
So we went to our favorite…Starbucks. It was the only one in the area. And so, we recommend the Arnold Air Force Base FamCamp in Tullahoma, Tennessee. It was about $20 a night. We had no problem getting a reservation, and we really enjoyed staying there in peace and quiet.
However, there was a thunderstorm! The first night we were there, we overheard the announcement outside. It sounded like a tornado warning but we couldn’t understand what they were saying over the PA system, because it was pouring down rain and it was very windy.
So we called the base security, finally, because it came on again and we didn’t know if it was a tornado warning or if it was just telling us there was lightning in the area. Turns out, they were just telling us there was lightning in the area! So, we weathered that storm, no problem! Again, $20 a night at the FamCamp… highly recommended!
Harvest Hosts Again!
We left Tullahoma, after paying the $20 a night, and we like to go somewhere free after that. So, we look for a Harvest Hosts site, and I found one in Oldfort, Tennessee. It was a farm and from what I could read in the reviews, it was a working family farm, meaning it was very small and there was a young family running it.
Visiting a Working Family Farm
So I thought, well, maybe the two vegans can learn something from an actual working farm since the factory farms in the area won’t let us in! Nor will the chicken farms let us in because they have big signs in front of them that say, “Warning, biohazard, do not enter!”.
So this was an opportunity for us to stay on an actual working farm and talk with the farmers. Michael’s gonna tell you what that was like.
So Harvest Hosts, once again takes you in all kinds of directions. We ended up on a farm! We’re vegans! And, we always try to learn from everyone we come in contact with.
This family owned farm was run by a gentleman, named Justin. He told me that he and his wife recently decided they needed a gigantic change in their life. They were engineers and workers at Boeing and Washington State. They drove around the United States in an RV themselves, and they found an affordable farm that they could rent from some neighbors.
This is a really tiny farm and their idea is to let all the animals roam and have free range. They also had some ideas about making bread, serving up cured meat from the animals that they ultimately slaughter. But when we were visiting, they didn’t have any of that available.
So we drove up and Justin came out and showed us exactly where to park and he has a very nice plot of land that we were able to find a relatively level area. He has a commercial kitchen that he said he’s working on so that he can make the bread and make the different cured meats for his people who come by, like us Harvest Hosts folks.
We wanted to make sure right off they knew we were vegan… so that we weren’t coming under some kind of false pretense as to why we wanted to be on the farm. But he was gracious enough to say that’s fine and he then proceeded to give us a tour of the farm.
It was interesting to me to learn from him that they made the change to a farm in Tennessee because they had had some health issues in the family. They wanted to find a way to locally source the meat, or the foods that they were eating so that they would be clean, quote, unquote, “clean” meats, and they felt that this would be healthier for them. So they found the farm.
They had the guinea hens running around, cleaning up the bugs and ticks and things that are in the grass. That was kind of cool, but those were really loud. There were about probably two dozen of those. And then we saw that there were two sows in the back. One of the sows he said had had a litter of piglets that all were born dead.
So that was sad and that’s why he was not able to have any bread or any of the things that a Harvest Hosts person who stays on a farm would more likely buy to show appreciation for the ability to stay over night for free. So we were not able to buy anything, but we were very thankful.
Difficulty stomaching the thought
We did tell him we’re vegan. So, as he’s telling us all about the animals, I couldn’t help but cringe a couple times…especially when we went over to see the boar and the boar was huge! I forget his name, but he was able to give him a belly rub and the boar just loved it!
And then of course, he told us that, “Yeah, eventually the boar is going to be slaughtered and then made into some kind of ham that they’ll probably cure or brine because he’s an old boar and probably not that tasty.”
Oh, goodness as a vegan this was hard to stomach! Pun intended. Then we got to see the chickens and the chickens were running like Michael said…free range all around and laying eggs in their hutch or clutch. That’s what it’s called a “clutch”.
But they were beautiful chickens running around. So, from a vegan’s point of view, this farm was amazing in that it had lots of animals running around, free-range. They were being well taken care of by this family. But eventually they would go to slaughter. And so that was pretty sad.
We spent the night and it was very peaceful. There was no problem with staying on the farm overnight. It was just a small area for us to be in and we didn’t really feel like we wanted to wander around anyway. But we had just come from the Gentle Barn Farm Sanctuary the day before, and so the comparison was striking.
Raccoon Mountain RV Park
When we get to that part of the podcast, we’ll talk all about it. But first, we want to finish the section about the different RV places that we stayed at and so we are now at Raccoon Mountain RV park in Chattanooga.
It’s a “Good Sam Park”. We have full-hookups. It’s only $31 a night and what’s interesting about this park, to me, is we are stuck over here on the side by the tents. When I asked the lady at the front why we were so far away from all the other RVs, she said it was because when you are only 25 feet you can’t take up an 80 foot pull-through site, which is what all those other ones are, which seem very nice.
Now we are next to a bunch of tents and when you are next to tents, and I don’t mean this in a derogatory sense, but it’s the truth. People don’t have a restroom in their tent, and they don’t have cooking facilities in their tents usually, so they have a campfire. So there’s a lot of smoke! And then there’s the need for them to use the restroom which is right down the pathway from our RV. So, we have a lot of people going back and forth and this group of tenters doesn’t seem to take very good care of the restroom. They are messy and not very clean.
We’re not really happy with this side of the RV park. So, we walk over to the other restroom, which, when I went over there to ask the lady in the office, I said,
“hey, how come we’re over there in that icky side of the campground?”
She told me why, which is the explanation about the length of our vehicle. But I said, well, what’s the difference with the bathrooms? Why is one so much nicer than the other? And she said,
“Oh, a couple months ago, they had a Boy Scout camp-out over there and the Boy Scouts actually destroyed the bathroom.!”
Can you believe that? Boy Scouts of all people! That’s not supposed to happen! So, they had to completely redo/renovate the bathroom that is on the other side of the campground, which makes it look like a beautiful little bathroom. You know, each one is a separate shower and toilet area. And they’re really actually very nice…a little musty smelling, but actually very nice!
So if you’re going to stay here at the Raccoon Mountain RV park, I would recommend you go to that restroom on the other side. And we are kind of in the dirt/gravel side of the park. So, we had to use our leveling blocks…again! We have a nice little Airstream next to us finally, so we’re not the only campers over here, besides the tenters. And what else about this place Michael?
I like the hiking trail in the area. It was very steep, very rugged, very beautiful, going up and down the hiking trail. Also, interestingly enough, this place actually has really functional, fast Wi-Fi.
So, all in all, you know, on a five star scale, we probably would give it a three and a half. It’s actually a great quiet, peaceful place and there are caverns that you could go into if you so choose. But of course with our Sugar Girl, we don’t want to leave her in the camp ground so we don’t get to take her either. So we don’t get to go but maybe another day.
Next up, we’re going to switch gears and talk about our visit to the Gentle Barn Farm Sanctuary. So stay tuned.
The Gentle Barn Sanctuary
So one of the reasons we’re in Tennessee is because we wanted to visit the Gentle Barn Farm Sanctuary. In Tennessee, it used to be in Knoxville, but now it’s in Christiana, Tennessee. And we saw that we were very close to it and we said, let’s just go see it!
You get to visit this Farm Sanctuary on Sundays from 11-1pm and because we are vegans we want to support these in our mission statement of our podcast! We are so excited to be able to talk about our experience in the visit!
But first I want to read the founders message from their website. It’s all about them, the “all about us” section on the Gentle Barn. So here’s what it says,
“We live in a concrete, violent, noisy, high tech busy world. We have lost our connection to animals, to nature, and most of all, to ourselves. Animals are living lives of torment from beginning to end. Their cries are unheard. Their pain is unseen, and they are suffering. The rate of heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes has never been higher. The rain forests are being destroyed. We are in a global drought. We are polluting our air and species go extinct every day. But by having reverence for all life and by reconnecting with Mother Earth we each can change all that.
At the Gentle Barn, we stand up for the innocent, and we help animals and children alike remember that they matter. We open people’s hearts to the connections with nature. We open people’s minds to what is happening around us. And we inspire people to be an integral part of the solution. Through the stories and interactions with our animals we can raise future generations who have reverence for all life, protect our planet, live good, healthy, happy lives, and we will all be closer to having peace on earth. We can’t do this work without you and are grateful for your support”.
So, please, go to their website and check out the Gentle Barn. And if you’re in the area, go visit them because it will change your life!
A couple of the things I loved about this particular animal sanctuary is each animal has a volunteer who actually tells you their intimate story. We learned that many of the animals were minutes away from being slaughtered. Many of the animals had deformities that would automatically put them ahead of the other animals to be taken and slaughtered.
We also found that the educators really love the animals that they work with, they come back time and time again. They’re not paid. And they really helped us learn that animals have personalities! They have a right to be on this earth and not be just food for us.
Also, on this particular sanctuary, they had an open cafe/restaurant that had vegan options. And they also had books and clothing that you can purchase from there. So, if you’re at any of the locations where the Gentle Barn is, stop by and learn about the animals, get some education and maybe start making changes in your own diet that doesn’t include animals!
So on the day we visited the Gentle Barn in Tennessee, there were about 50 other people there. It was a chilly day for the time of year. But, everybody was very happy to be seeing the animals and I got to sit down with a turkey, which was amazingly beautiful! And then we got to see the chickens and I got to hold one and pet one of the chickens. They’re very soft, of course.
Then we got to meet the cows and these cows had quite the personalities! We also were taught that the cows that you see free-grazing out in the pastures are often only about six months old, because that’s about the time when they are sent to slaughter. They don’t get old anymore. They die early because it’s not worth the money to keep them on the pasture grazing.
So as soon as they’re able to be killed for your meat on the table, they’re sent to slaughter. And every animal, even though it’s not in a factory farm, maybe it’s on the small farm like we were at, they all end up in the same place, they get a knife in their throat and they are skinned and then chopped up and covered in cellophane and put on the shelf in the grocery store or on your plate.
We have found that the more we interact with the live animals at these sanctuaries, the more we feel for them. And I just think that more people need to get out and meet the animals and not just the ones in petting zoos, because for some reason, the petting zoos don’t really let you know that those are the ones that are going to be on your plate later, even though we know they probably are!
But when you get to interact with them at the sanctuary, and they all have names and they all have personalities and you get to see how big they are and how old they get and how long they should live. Besides, you know, being on a farm where they are sent to slaughter, as soon as they are ripe, so to speak, then you get a different feeling for them and a little more compassion.
And in this day and age, we have so many choices to eat vegan, we do not have to eat the animals for the protein. We do not have to eat the animals for any reason! And lifestyle these days tells us that, you know, the research shows, you can reduce your heart disease, you can reduce your diabetes, if you stop eating animals, and that’s why we are on this mission to spread the news!
Finally, I just want to end this part by saying that there’s a book called, “My Gentle Barn“ by Ellie Laks. She’s the one who started the Gentle Barn, and you can get it on Amazon and you can also get it on Audible. It’s a wonderful story of how she started this sanctuary.
The fact is that it still needs support. It needs money, needs visitors, it needs volunteers! So, go ahead and get that book and maybe that’ll help you change your mind about eating animals.
So on that note, we’re going to end the podcast right after we tell you about the vegan restaurant we found in Chattanooga, so stay tuned.
Sluggos Vegan Restaurant Review
So once again, Michael used his Happy Cow app to find us a restaurant in Chattanooga and he’s going to tell you all about it.
So we ate at Sluggos… funny name, not sure how they came up with that name but it certainly sticks with you. It’s located in the “Hill City” neighborhood of Chattanooga.
The restaurant has been operating since 2009. The restaurant itself is kind of old, kind of a hippie theme and could use some fresh paint, but the food was delicious! They serve vegan food, which includes sandwiches, nachos, tofu club sandwiches, Philly BBQ tofu, Cajun dishes. They have buddah bowls.
I had the curry bowl which was really delicious! They have burritos, they have tacos. They have lots of soups. And I understand that Sunday lunch, they’ll have tofu scramble, etc. Also on their menu they have beer and wine, and they do take-out and they do catering. So I’m always happy if we can find a restaurant that serves only plant-based vegan meals. That way you don’t have to worry about what’s on your plate and at the end of the day, it reduces any use of animals.
I thought my burrito was a little bit bland, but for about $9 each, it was a pretty good meal and tasty enough. It’s too bad that we weren’t spending more time in Chattanooga because we could always find another restaurant to review.
Shout out to Chasie!
But we were able to go out to dinner with our good friend, Chasie, who is from Chattanooga, but who we met on the Camino in Spain about six years ago. So shout out to Chasie and thanks for meeting us and having dinner with us! It was great to see you again!
Next week it’s off to Nashville
Next week, we’re going to be talking all about our visit to Nashville, where we’re going to go see the Veg Fest on Saturday. So, join us next week as we review our vegan eats in Nashville and our visit to the veg fest and I’m going to try to find some “faux leather” cowboy boots in the heart of cowboy country. Wish me luck!
Join us next week, won’t you? In the meantime, you can go to our Instagram page to see all of our pictures @heaveninaclassc and you can also join us on our website at www.vegansonamission.com. Thank you for joining us and “be vegan!”
We are a retired teacher, Louisa, and a retired physician assistant, Michael, married for 39 years, who want to help busy travelers begin and maintain a healthy life-style while on the road.