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What's with the bunnies?

Pictured above: Vanilla

Everyone wants to know: why and how are there bunnies in our farm store? Are we scamming our customers by bringing in the bunnies? That's what MOST people would assume: a marketing technique aimed towards driving people into the store and using balls of floof to encourage the spillage of pockets.

As disheartening as the world might be, we are making sure the beauty and simplicity are emulated through our business and bunnies.

One of the main purposes of us introducing our farm animals to the urban dwellers, was introduced in the 1990s as the concept of: animal assisted therapy, AAT.

The therapeutic potential of animals was first recognized in the late 1800s, when Florence Nightingale, considered the founder of modern nursing, made substantial discoveries regarding AAT.

She observed that small pets helped reduce anxiety in children and adults living in psychiatric institutions, and she wrote in her book Notes on Nursing that being with small animals helps patients recover. Subsequently, AAT grew as a treatment for anxiety and as a way to relax.

During the early 1930s, Sigmund Freud, best known as “the father of psychoanalysis,” became a proponent of AAT when he began using his favorite dog, Jofi, during his psychotherapy sessions.

The simple act of petting animals releases an automatic relaxation response.

  • Humans interacting with animals have found that petting the animal promoted the release of serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin- all hormones that can play a part in elevating moods.

  • Lowers anxiety and helps people relax

  • Provides comfort.

  • Reduces loneliness.

  • Increases mental stimulation.

  • Assist in recall of memories and help sequence temporal events in patients with head injuries or chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

There are many studies for AAT with dogs and cats but the study is lacking research with AAT with farm animals. Once we acquired our farm, we focused on vegetation and landscape organization. We shortly realized the life of farming is empty without farm animals. The simple concept of seeing a furry friend after a hard day at work, finances tightening, familial issues, trauma, societal pressures and prejudice can be eased through animal interaction.

When the success of therapy becomes equated to ones' income, we begin treating mental healthcare as insurance based, only allowing a free and happy mind to those who can afford it. Due to these variables, we wanted to introduce AAT to everyone living in NYC, including children and patients who are dismissed from hospitalization but don't have a release for their anxiety. Pharmaceuticals can take the body and mind far enough to continue to function to constantly crave more; but what about the epigenetic factors that affect the patient depending on their demographics, physiologic severity and other psychosocial factors?

AAT has been a bit plagued due to the overemphasis on outcomes that is more anecdotal than evidence-based, which may have slanted some peoples’ perceptions. Furthermore, some of the misunderstanding may be attributed to the media’s excessive and unscientific focus on the relationship between animals and humans, creating an impression that a simple pet prescription is all that’s needed for miracles to occur instead of medication.

Benefits of AAT according to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, “people are happier and healthier in the presence of animals. Scientifically-documented benefits of the human-animal bond include decreased blood pressure, reduced anxiety, and enhanced feelings of well-being.”

Using an animal in therapy increases oxytocin levels in the brain which is recognized for its role in bonding, socialization, and stress relief by creating a sense of calm, comfort and focus. Research has also shown that animals can change the levels of cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine which induce a reduction of arterial pressure and cardiorespiratory rates.

Our commercial showroom is the introduction of affordable, accessible and inclusive AAT for everyone especially during these trying times of inflation, depression, war and climate change. Our farm will be the experience that converts the showroom to acres. We believe simplicity is the key to understanding our ticks, triggers and pain. Our bunnies do not give advice, ask what you do for a living or criticize your flaws. They like to be fed leafy greens and cuddle until its time to lay down; an experience and realization required for those of us losing ourselves in the heaping mountains of what we call "life."

Stop by our store, pet some bunnies, do some yoga and try to see if your mind invites a different realm of living.


Animal-Assisted Therapy: An Exploration of Its History, Healing Benefits, and How Skilled Nursing Facilities Can Set Up Programs Lorraine Ernst, RN, MS, AHN-BC

October 2014

2019 Oct; 16

The State of Animal-Assisted Interventions: Addressing the Contemporary Issues That Will Shape the Future

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