Fields of Freedom was founded in 2015 by me, Christopher Crump. I’m originally from Wales.
I had recently moved to Denmark, after spending 5 years living off the grid in a wooden hut in Galicia in northern Spain. I had gone to Spain to live because my father had purchased an old stone farmhouse there. He had always wanted to work on renovating an old stone house, so I decided to go along with him to help him.
I was 24. I had a dream to get away from society and live a basic life focused on having a minimum impact upon the Earth. I was on a journey of learning about myself and better understand the truth behind the world around me.
The first year in Spain I spent living in a canvas tipi. Heat and cooking came from a central fire pit, and clothes were washed in a bucket which also served as a bathtub. It was a truly rewarding experience, and it taught me a lot about myself and my own limits. Times were hard in the winter months, but comfort and peace were brought by the untouched beauty of the woodlands around me.
After that winter I decided to build a small wooden house from local timber, and in two weeks I had constructed a very cost-effective and livable home. I spent four years living there, nestled among the trees and overlooking a small brook.
The wildlife I saw and the peacefulness of the lifestyle changed my life. I had time to think about myself and our human existence. During this time my younger sister Abigail had also moved to Spain. She had recently become vegan along with her husband Mike. Within a short time, they had decided to start one of Galicia’s first farm sanctuaries, the now very successful Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary.
Living right next door to two vegans and an animal sanctuary for abused animals opened my mind to a new way of thinking about my food and where it came from. After some long discussions with my sister, and doing my own research, I decided to go vegan myself.
I had decided to start a small permaculture retreat where I would invite backpackers to stay at my home in return for work. They would be provided three meals a day and free accommodations.
In 2014 a Danish girl came to stay with me and we began a relationship. With her, I decided to leave Galicia and try a new life in Denmark. I still do not know why I made that choice but something in my heart told me to go, so I did. We moved to Lolland, a small island in the south of Denmark, where we rented a small old farm with a tiny garden surrounded by industrial agriculture.
Within months, I was deeply unhappy and depressed. I was struggling with my new change in lifestyle and leaving my father and sister behind in Spain. I had no new friends and there were no jobs on Lolland, so I even considered going back to Spain. But I had brought my two rescue dogs, Rufus and Oswald, with me from Spain along with my cat Genghis, who was also a rescue from abuse. Logistically it would be difficult, and I had little money to make it happen, so I stayed. But the feelings of being lost never left me.
Lolland was a socio-economically depressed area in Denmark. The traditional farming community had been hard hit by the heavy industrialization of farming, which had caused high unemployment rates. Nearly all the island was being used to grow grains and sugar beet crops, with much of it being fed to pigs who were locked up in large factory farms on the island.
I needed to do something with my life so planned to start a small fruit and vegetable shop run from my home selling produce I had grown from my own garden. But to do this I would need a bigger farm and some grounds. My partner and I bought a cheap farm, and in 2015 we moved into the Abed Smithy, an old blacksmith farm with a few acres of flat fields. Straight away I had the neighboring farmer come in and plough half the whole field and I began sowing seeds and preparing an old building on the side of the farmhouse that would serve as the shop.
I had recently read an article about how you could keep a flock of ducks in your vegetable garden to get rid of slugs and snails and thought what a fantastic idea. So began searching the free pages for ducks in need of a home and found a group of five ducks for free, just ten minutes away. I set off to collect them at the farm.
It was a big farm with huge outbuildings at the end of a very long driveway, set back from other houses in the middle of a grain field. When we pulled up in the car, there was a miserable-looking man using a chainsaw outside one of two barns. He came over to introduce himself as the owner and asked us to follow him into one of the barns to see the ducks. As I walked into the first barn building all I could smell was manure and ammonia from urine, and it was nearly pitch black.
Immediately, I could see five huge horses all together in a very small wooden enclosure. The horses had patches of fur missing from lice infestation and had a dull appearance overall. To the right of me, I could see a flock of maybe twenty sheep – very skinny, and also in a filthy wooden enclosure.
The man continued onward into the second barn and what awaited me there was pure horror! There must have been five cows all chained at the head to metal bars inches from their faces, covered in manure and with patches of sores on their bodies. There were maybe ten horses and ponies – also chained at the neck. All of them were standing in small wooden enclosures which ran along all four walls. In the middle of the room, there were three more pens. In two of those stood a mix of small and large ponies all crammed together.
In the third pen, I could see the most magnificent donkey – a female, who was black and as tall as a horse, with the most beautiful eyes. Standing next to her was her son, who was just five months old – a big fluffy ball of a black baby donkey. They both were chained to a metal ring on the front of the enclosure, and just like all the animals in those barns, they had never seen daylight.
This man was solely using the animals to make money. He would breed the females over and over, and sell the babies at markets and online. When the females were worn out, he would slaughter them. And he was doing it to all types of animals – pigs, sheep, horses, mules, ponies, and donkeys.
After seeing the animals like that and the ducks, hens and geese in a similar situation, as I drove away from there, with the family of five ducks, I knew I would be going back to try and free some of his slaves.
Over the next few weeks, I set about trying to persuade the man to let me take the female donkey and her son, who would later be named Aslan, and give them sanctuary at my own farm. But he refused. I kept insisting and finally he allowed me to take Aslan, but not his mother, for a small fee.
Two weeks later I was back at his house of horrors to collect Aslan. It broke my heart to have to leave both his mother and all those other animals in that monster’s care but I had no choice. I had contacted all of the animal welfare groups and animal protection agencies here in Denmark but was told there was nothing legally they could do to stop this kind of animal abuse.
The feeling of being powerless and unable to help get my mind going. I wanted to find out if there was any place where animals rescued from places like this would be able to find sanctuary, and if there were any other farm sanctuaries in Denmark working at changing the lives of this kind of animals in desperate need. Sadly, I found out that there was only a handful, which had their own struggles with getting started and with the number of animals they could help. I wanted to do more. I wanted to change the animals’ lives and be their voice. So I thought I would no longer start a vegetable and fruit shop, but I would instead found an animal sanctuary – one of the very first of its kind in Denmark.
Abed Farm Sanctuary was started, and Aslan was our first rescue. His story would help get support for my mission to be a voice for the animals. I quickly learned that on this particular island with its flat, water-logged land, poor socio-economic attitudes, along with the location, which was both expensive and difficult for visitors to get to, an animal sanctuary would not thrive and be a success. So I decided to search for a new farm, with more land and opportunity for the animals and for the sanctuary to grow.
In late 2015, after many long nights searching the Internet, I found Bankevejen 34 on Fyn – an old farm with a thatch roof that had stood empty for more than four years and was being sold for demolition.
There wasn’t much left of the house building, but the stables were big and dry. Best of all, it had over 10 acres of the most fantastic and beautiful fields and woodlands, situated in a protected area of Denmark. This would be the place where the sanctuary could flourish, and I could continue my mission.
Abed Farm Sanctuary had been named after the old smithy on Lolland, so now the sanctuary would need a new name. One evening I stood at the top of the fields overlooking the farm, thinking about a new name. I saw a deer run through the field in front of me, and the name Fields of Freedom came into my mind. If you see the pictures of where the sanctuary is located, you’ll understand that Fields of Freedom is the perfect name for the sanctuary.
Over the next year, I worked on building up the sanctuary by making fences and sun/rain/wind shelters out in the fields. I did a lot of cleaning and clearing of all the farm buildings belonging to the sanctuary.
Today, Fields of Freedom is home to more than 70 animals of all different kinds who all had one thing in common: they were all previously abused and neglected, on their way to the slaughterhouse, and in desperate need of loving sanctuary.
Since the start of Fields of Freedom, we’ve had many visitors who are eager to meet the animals and help around the sanctuary. We’ve appeared on the news on Danish television and we’re slowly growing the numbers of our Facebook and Instagram followers as well as gaining more supporters of Fields of Freedom.