What better way is there to spice up a mundane conference call than by throwing a farm animal into the mix?
An animal sanctuary in Silicon Valley is offering a service that lets people add a furry face to their video meetings. Goat 2 Meeting, the initiative launched by Anna Sweet of Sweet Farm last month, was initially an attempt to make up for revenue it would be losing from farm visits and tours due to lockdown orders brought on by COVID-19.
But since mid-March, Sweet told Modern Farmer she’s booked more than 300 meetings and has a lengthy waiting list of eager participants. The demand has been so large, Sweet says, that the farm made the decision to partner with two other animal sanctuaries in order to accommodate requests.
“With so many people stuck inside, I think everyone is craving a piece of the outdoors and farm animals just naturally bring smiles to people’s faces,” she says. “We’ve been enjoying meeting people of all ages and from all around the world.”
Photo courtesy of Anna Sweet, Sweet Farms.
The service ranges from $65 to $250 per meeting, depending on the length and interactive elements of the call. Conference callers can have their virtual farm experience with goats, sheep, pigs, cows, turkeys and llamas.
Participants can use any virtual meeting software of their choice. After determining call-in details through the booking process, the farm animal joins the call, farm staff are able to do a quick introduction of the farm and the other animals. Sweet Farm’s website notes that callers are free to ask questions or just sit back and enjoy the company of their special guest.
The farm has also been providing virtual field trips for schools and nonprofits. It’s planning on providing a virtual tour to a homeless shelter in North Carolina and has already hosted schools in the United Kingdom and Brazil.
While online visits are not able to replace the experience of in person interactions, Sweet says the farm is focusing on what it can do to continue operating while spreading a little bit of joy and education.
“Our mission as a nonprofit is to help create a more compassionate and sustainable world and we feel fortunate to be able to continue working toward that despite the situation,” she says.