Adults and children watch as goats race down a pathway at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm during the daily morning goat stampede. The goats run from their sleeping barn down to their day viewing pen.

Adults and children watch as goats race down a pathway at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm during the daily morning goat stampede. The goats run from their sleeping barn down to their day viewing pen.

Beacon Hill Children’s Farm celebrates 30 years

It’s first thing on a Thursday morning at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm.

It’s first thing on a Thursday morning at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm.

The sun is peeking through the trees, the ground is damp from the rainfall the previous night and the air is thick with the smell of sawdust and hay. A rooster crows continuously in the background.

Suddenly, dozens of white, black and brown goats come stampeding through the farm, twisting their way around the fences.

They’re on a mission: going from the main farm to the petting area some metres away. So begins the day for the goats at the children’s farm.

Twice a day — first thing after the farm opens and near closing — the goats stampede through the farm into their pens.

For Lynda and Dennis Koenders, the last 30 years of their lives have revolved around the goats and the dozens of other animals at the petting zoo in Beacon Hill Park.

“It’s the joy of working with the animals, seeing the kids’ faces. Everybody goes out with a smile on their face. There are very few grumpy people. If they’re grumpy when they come in, they’re happy when they go out,” said Lynda. “It’s a happy place to work.”

The Koenders family initially opened a petting zoo in Coombs (approximately 10 kilometres west of Parksville), but after a few years of slow business, they eventually decided to bring their pets to Victoria.

On June 12, 1985, the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm was born.

The next two years proved difficult for the family of five, surviving with very little money (the farm runs solely on donations) and spending seven days a week caring for the animals. Lynda admitted she was ready to throw in the towel, but Dennis wouldn’t hear it.

“I’m a dreamer. I could see the potential of it and so I just didn’t want to give up and quit. When you give up, you lose,” Dennis said. “If your will is strong enough, it will work.”

Over the next few years, the family persevered and grew the farm to include alpacas, roosters, guinea pigs, chickens, rabbits, peacocks, donkeys, miniature horses, turkeys, ducks and pigs.

This year, the farm is celebrating its 30th anniversary and the Koenders love the farm just as much as when it first opened.

Their love for the farm and its animals is infectious and has spread to its employees, many of whom come in on their days off as well.

“I like the animals. They’re all like my little pets,” said Claudia Laube, who has worked there for the past five years. “Being in the city, especially kids, but even people of all ages don’t grow up around animals, especially farm animals. It’s a big piece of education here for the kids and for the adults it’s therapy.”

Now, the farm sees roughly 150,000 visitors annually, 70 per cent of whom are locals.

Siblings Cate and Cole Pontefract first started coming to the petting zoo four years ago when they moved to Victoria.

“We get to pet the goats and it’s fun seeing all the animals,” said 10-year-old Cole, noting they come three to four times a year.

“You get to see animals that you don’t see in nature,” added eight-year-old Cate.



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich police officers were one group of dozens that submitted dance clips to the Greater Victoria Festival Society, to help create the Dance Across Victoria video montage. (Youtube/Screenshot)
WATCH: Saanich police, Victoria mayor bust some moves in new Dance Across Victoria video

Montage features submitted dance clips from across Greater Victoria

Former Oak Bay High Grade 12 student Brandon Kip plays the $100,000 Steinway piano in the Dave Dunnet Theatre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay High Alumni Association passes torch to new president

The association has given back more than $70,000 in its 16 years

Saanich’s Malia Brodie competed in the Vancouver qualifiers for the 2020 National Championships. (Photo by BC Sport Karate Snaps)
PHOTOS: Saanich teen awarded $1,800 Karate Canada bursary to pursue officiant certification

Malia Brodie, 18, has black belt, nearly 15 years experience in karate

This photo courtesy of Leanne Grover shows the immediate aftermath of the fire at 7987 Galbraith Cres. that caused extensive damage and displaced six residents. (Leanne Grover/Submitted)
Residents of a Central Saanich duplex ‘fortunate’ to escape Sunday morning fire

Damage to the duplex extensive with one resident said to be ‘catatonic’ after escaping building

After more than a year, open forums will resume at a Saanich committee of the whole meeting on April 19 with up to five residents having the chance to speak for three minutes each about any district-related matter. (Black Press Media file photo)
Public input resumes at Saanich council following lengthy suspension due to pandemic

Up to five residents can present by phone for up to three minutes starting April 19

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Most Read