Intro to Life at Camphill (which is indeed located on a hill!)
We’ve been working visitors at Camphill Farm for about a week. It has been plain great to be here and we’ve received a very warm welcome. Here are a few details about this unique place:
Where: Camphill Farm is located in Hermanus, a seaside town in the Western Cape Province. The farm and community homes occupy a hillside in the Hemel en Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley, just outside of town. Across the valley is a large vineyard as well as a nature reserve.
What: Camphill is a movement that started in Scotland to foster communities that sustain people with developmental disabilities. Camphill in Hermanus has a school for children with special needs as well as the farm community which numbers about 100 residents and co-workers. The farm has cows, a dairy (making cheese, yogurt, butter, etc.), chickens, pigs, a bakery, a craft workshop, and a large herb garden (which, I’ve been reminded by several South African residents of Camphill, must be pronounced with the strong ‘H’…so Herbs it is, as in the great Herb Brooks).
When: Camphill Hermanus was started in 1978. Anna and I arrived on March 1st and will be here for 4 weeks. Our daily schedule looks something like this: milking in the early AM, Pete on the farm during the day, Anna making cheese during the day, 10:30 tea break (tea is something we are getting accustomed to, but it’s much more enjoyable with fresh milk), lunch in one of the homes where residents live, and usually end the day around 5pm.
Who: Homes in the Camphill community are a shared living situation amongst residents (those individuals with developmental disabilities) and co-workers who serve as caretakers and colleagues in the workshops mentioned above. (I’m doing my best with this terminology but I won’t be offended if a Camphill person corrects me:).
Why: There are a variety of reasons that Camphill communities exist, and we are learning about that everyday. Anna and I applied to be working visitors here because we wanted to experience a community whose life and happiness rely upon farming and the land. We wanted to be at Camphill to learn how they integrate this agricultural work in their central mission of supporting people with special needs. I’ll have more to say about all of this later along with more about the folks we’re working with.