Unique Farm Sells Cow Hugs | Cattle

Farmers are always looking for ways to generate more income from their activities. But a small company with farms in California, Missouri and Tennessee has developed a truly unique business model. The Gentle Barn sells contact with farm animals as therapy and stress relief – and has been in business since 1999.

As founder Ellie Laks explains on her website, she founded The Gentle Barn in 1999 because “it had been a dream of hers since she was seven years old. Animals have always been very soothing and nurturing to her as she faced the challenges of growing up, finding herself, fitting in, feeling understood, etc. Laks majored in special education and psychology and decided The Gentle Barn was “a perfect way to put all of her talents and passions into one.” She and her partner Jay Weiner, who met her as a volunteer, run The Gentle Barn as a non-profit organization. “Like Ellie, Jay also turned to animals for the support, love and nurturing he needed as a child,” according to the website.