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Biophile Magazine -- » AumFarm Eco Community

"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." Dalai Lama

AumFarm Eco Community

by AumFarm

FILED IN: Issue 19 · Sustainability


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The AumFarm Eco-Community is a rural gathering of like-minded, spiritually aware people, who create a supportive social environment with a low-impact, minimum footprint, sustainable lifestyle. To help us achieve this, we are striving to integrate ecologically aware design practices and by using permaculture and bio-culture methods.

Low impact structures, local production and consumption, renewable energy sources and community minded building practices are being used. Our purpose is not “set in stone” and will probably evolve as the community grows and moves from strength to strength.

“Life is a journey, not a destination…”

One only has to Google “eco-community”, “intentional community”, “commune”, “co-housing” to get an idea of how many people worldwide are starting to realise that there is more to life than the stress- filled existence in the city, pollution, clogged highways and byways, the continual pursuit of material wealth, the list is endless… While conducting these searches take note of how many of these ventures succeed but also how many fail. Why is it that some flourish and others just fade over time, what makes a success story? What is done differently in the success cases to ensure that the show goes on? And good luck doing so!

The way of life today is unsustainable and with peak oil looming you will eventually find communities popping up all over the countryside, producing and consuming local products. People will once again begin using barter as the local currency for products as well as services. One thing you will note is that people willing to enter into such a venture are independent, strong willed, “off the wall” individuals. Men and women of great vision, a common vision.. but differing ideas on how to achieve it. This usually becomes the first item on the agenda of any community, how do you harness the individuality and strength of multiple souls and channel them in a common direction for the good of all participants?

Getting an adventure of this nature off the ground does not come cheap: land has become so expensive and beyond the reach of most of us going it alone. With AumFarm, some members will remain in the city for a couple more years to fund the dream. Although individuals have used their own funds to a large extent to fund their own private dwellings on the property, infrastructure projects have had to be initiated and paid for to ensure the way forward would be sustainable and long-lasting. Creating a dream this way leads to issues of their own: What about ownership? What about guiding the community going forward? Who makes the decisions?

The word “governance” or “hierarchy” comes up and all those strong individuals involved start bristling… they have just escaped this structure and limitation based world to live their dream.

Obviously some way of mapping the way forward to ensure community longevity and sustainability has had to be put in place. But, keeping everyone happy all of the time is an impossibility and guidelines have had to be put in place to ensure that this is achieved as far as possible. For a start up community to succeed, people wishing to join and put in their energy and money into the community need to be assured that even though this is not a pursuit of personal wealth but a way of life, their investment will not be lost to them forever.

Circumstances change, events lead us in many different directions during our lifetimes. We need to be able to move on if our path takes us onwards… this has already been the case on AumFarm where members have developed “cabin fever” and moved back to the city, maybe forever, maybe for just a while, only time will tell.

The AumFarm commune-ites had a dream in 2002 and they individually put into action, plans to give them the ability to achieve this long term goal. Some members went overseas to earn pounds to fund their individual dream within a future community and others remained behind. In late 2004, Al and Col bought a farm in the Waterberg, Limpopo Province to get the show on the road and to lay the foundation for future dreamers. They were assisted by Al’s brother and his wife who left their jobs in the city and moved onto the property on a permanent basis. Al and Col stayed in the city to earn the money needed to achieve all that was planned.

The farm is situated 17km’s from the nearest small town on a dirt road in the middle of mixed small scale agriculture and game farm properties. AumFarm has a mountain in the back yard, a stream in the front yard and a whole bunch of African Bushveld in between… in 2006 the farm next door was also added, bringing the total acreage up to roughly 130. A game fence was put up and the development got under way in all earnest. All this, and the initial infrastructure was achieved using private funds provided by some of the founding community members.

In 2005, Lynn and Ormon, who were part of the original group discussion and had been slaving overseas to fund their vision, joined the community and started building their dream house out of the native rock. Orm did the design of their house using sacred geometries and the end result is well…you just have to see it. 2006 saw Al’s brother and his wife move back to the city to be closer to civilisation and grandchildren again, the secluded self-sufficient life is not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea…but, if you don’t try it, you will never know.

Water, being a stressed commodity in today’s world, is a major ongoing project on AumFarm. Rainwater storage is one of the most important concerns for times of drought. Currently, all water is drawn by electric pump from the stream and into storage tanks in the mountain where they gravity feed to the houses and gardens. Gray water is utilised in the flower gardens.

Compost generation is next on the list to rejuvenate the soil. The soil is very sandy and will take effort and loads of compost to bring it back into top condition, naturally. Artificial fertilisers are avoided. The permaculture gardens started by Lynn supply 100% of the community’s veggies. Lettuce, carrots, chillies, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, onions, kale, spinach and too many others to mention thrive. The Waterberg has an almost year round growing season so the work never stops. The permaculture gardens come with all the trimmings, fruit trees consist of peach, apricot, pear, mulberry, quince, plum, lemon, fig, persimmons and pawpaw. Granadillas cover every available fence.

Lynn is busy dabbling in medicinal herbs and her efforts are starting to pay off. Sugar does not feature in our future, Stevia is the way to go!

AumFarm is a registered WWOOF Independents host and the summer months see a steady flow of international visitors, young and old coming to work beside us. They come to learn our methods and lifestyle and also to teach alternate organic methods that they have picked up on their travels to various farms around the world. Often they arrive with musical instruments to add to the living energy that has become AumFarm, this energy and enthusiasm is a tonic for all.

What of our future plans? We intend building a central boma area for general entertainment as well as a sweat lodge. Short term accommodation in cottages is on the cards for those poor city folk that cannot let go but still need to recharge their batteries on a regular basis. In this way, we hope to attract people in great numbers to join us for weekend drumming sessions to add to the energy of AumFarm and to take away a new outlook on life For more info about AumFarm and their paradise you can contact Al at 105aumfarm@mweb.co.za

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1 Comment »

  1. Can I visit the farm to experience all the amazing things that you have done.

    Comment by Fanie Joubert

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