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.

Overlooking Hermanus, a town famous for its bay where whales calve in the winter months

Here you can see Camphill Farm across the valley

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).

Our apartment is in the upper level of Mercury Hall which is a main gathering space for the community. Anna is cradling fresh bread from the bakery

Standing in the herb garden like I’m taking senior pictures

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.

Making Cheese!

New calves are a common sight around here

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:).

Lunch during our first week in one of the homes.

In our apartment where I figured out how to get wifi if I sit by the window and use a particular blue pot as an ipad stand.

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.

4 responses to “Intro to Life at Camphill (which is indeed located on a hill!)”

  1. Paula says :

    What a good idea.

  2. DeNee hansen says :

    Amazing, and such an adventure.

  3. Doug and Jenny Knight says :

    Anna, did you pack your apron?!? Glad to see you back in the kitchen! Please take good notes on cheese making and I’ll come visit for lessons🙂 Can’t wait to hear more about this place, sounds like you guys will have a really rewarding experience. Ps. Doug and I are in Thailand on holidays, really enjoying this weather! Participants will arrive in less than 2 weeks, wish you guys were around for all the preparations and celebrations! Love to you both.

  4. Deborah Polzin says :

    The setting for Camphill Farm is beautiful but that is one very skinny cow. Look at the ribs and the hips stick out! It looks like it could use more feed. The landscape is gorgeous and I hope there is time for exploring beside working.

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