I spent spring break of my senior year of college working on a farm. We woke up at dawn to milk the cows, built a composting toilet from wood recycled from a destroyed barn, rolled oats at the on-site bakery. The families who lived on the farm took us in for meals each night—quinoa, fresh cheeses, grilled tempeh—and delivered us fresh pitas and un-pasteurized milk from their cows each morning. They also offered a home to developmentally disabled teenagers and adults, giving them a place where they could work and feel valued. It was a city kid’s farm vacation dream—learning how food comes to table on a small, organic farm in the middle of Wisconsin.
Farm tourism has been big business since the 1970’s when families moved out of the city into the country to try their hands at their ancestors’ business. That was mostly a bust. But, more recently, people have been moving back to farms and a more simple way of life. Working on the farm was vacation for me, but everyday for some.
The farm that I spent my break was based on the ideas of anthroposophy and Camphill communities. Both ideas recognize the value and worth of every person, regardless of their skill and ability level. Many of these small-scale farms in the United States and Canada are set up this way. They make enough food to sustain their farm community, sell a little at farmers’ markets and create crafts for enjoyment and sale.
Camphill is an organization that uses each person’s abilities to create a renewable source of life for society. The communities that they establish are called “intentional communities,” or communities created by the decision of people who are not related to live and work together for a common cause. There are 13 Camphill communities total in North America. In the United States, there are communities in Pennsylvania, California, New York, Minnesota, Vermont and Missouri and in Canada, there are programs in British Columbia and Ontario.
The Camphill program is privately funded, but also receives donations from foundations and grantmakers. They have also established the Camphill School of Curative Education and Social Therapy for teachers interested in receiving a certificate in Curative Education, Youth Guidance and Social Therapy while working in a Camphill community.
The Camphill program is based on the spiritual idea of anthroposophy. Created by philosopher Rudolf Steiner in Switzerland, anthroposophy is not political or associated with a particular religious sect. The American branch is only one of seventy branches worldwide. The mission of anthroposiphists is exemplified in the Camphill communities—they want to build up the soul in the individual and in society based on the understanding of a spiritual world.
In other words, anthroposophy develops practitioners' inner lives, allowing practitioners to form relationships with the spiritual world by finding answers within themselves. Anthropos (human beings) and wisdom (Sophia) holds within themselves the power to solve the world’s problems.
I would recommend further examination of community farms and anthroposophy to anyone. Not only can you gain a better understanding of where your food comes from and what “organic” really means, but also you can witness a group of people who work together and create something real regardless of each person's knowledge, skill or wealth.