How to Invite a Goat to Your Next Zoom Meeting

1 min
Nibblets (aka Mama Goat) is ready for her close-up as part of "Goat 2 Meetings," a zoom meeting program set up by the animal sanctuary Sweet Farm south of Half Moon Bay. (Rachael Myrow/KQED)

Sweet Farm, an animal sanctuary south of Half Moon Bay, has had to shut its doors to public events and tours during the coronavirus pandemic. But the animals are getting out and about online.

Few things drop your cortisol levels as quickly as staring at Stella the sheep, Juno the goat, and roosters Steve, Dan, Gregory and SuSu — all of them nibbling happily in fields of green.

"There is a strong need for people to really get out, even through this vicarious video screen," said Sweet Farm co-founder Nate Salpeter.

The concept is simple: Whether you’re an elementary school class looking for a virtual field trip or a Silicon Valley startup starved for an amusing diversion at the top of a business meeting, you can book a visit to Sweet Farm via Zoom. Some individuals are even booking farm visits to spice up happy hour video calls with their friends.

Well hello there, gorgeous. Sweet Farm's clients booking virtual trips to the farm include schools and groups of friends looking for a rustic, calming distraction that doesn't require travel.
Sweet Farm's clients booking virtual trips to the farm include schools and groups of friends looking for a rustic, calming distraction that doesn't require travel. (Rachael Myrow/KQED)

"Especially for a lot of these companies that are doing things like Zoom yoga, this is one that gets people out of their routine, which is good right now," Salpeter said.

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“Goat 2 Meetings,” started just a few days ago, and already, Sweet Farm is beaming bucolic happiness several hours a day to homes all across the country. It’s not exactly a moneymaker. School Zooms, for instance, are free. Corporate "visits" range from $64 to $150, depending on the length of the engagement.

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Christie Lagally is the founder and CEO of Rebellyous Foods out of Seattle, a food tech firm making plant-based chicken nuggets, patties and strips. She says Paco the llama is going to be a surprise guest at the company's weekly strategy meeting this Monday.

"One of our executives is on [Sweet Farm's] board, so she recommended it as an opportunity to raise morale given all the things we're dealing with, particularly with the coronavirus here in Seattle," Lagally says.

Sweet Farm co-founder Nate Salpeter uses his phone to help remote "visitors" tour the animal sanctuary south of Half Moon Bay.
Sweet Farm co-founder Nate Salpeter uses his phone to help remote "visitors" tour the animal sanctuary south of Half Moon Bay. (Rachael Myrow/KQED)

The nonprofit’s end goal, both online and off, is to raise awareness about the evils of industrialized agriculture and the joys of treating animals like friends instead of meat at a moment most of us are starving for the sight of something good going on.

"Each of these animals has their own personal story: abuse, abandonment, factory farming. It really spans the entire spectrum. Of course, these animals [at Sweet Farm] are living out their lives to the fullest without fear of meeting the ultimate end of a slaughterhouse," Salpeter said.

Sweet Farm's message does have more urgency at this cultural moment. At a time many of us are cooking more enthusiastically with meat, knowing the names of a handful of animals just might encourage some people to use this time to shift in a vegetarian or vegan direction. Cacio e Pepe, anyone?