Many people might be familiar with the cosmetic products or the Camphill Yoghurt in their supermarkets, but are probably not aware of its history or what it has to do with music.
Camphill West Coast managing director James Sleigh explains: “The whole concept of Camphill was started in 1939 by an embryologist from Vienna, Karl Koenig, who was doing research on people with intellectual disabilities, specifically Down syndrome.
“Koenig found the best way to help them was through nutrition and engaging with other people and set up the first Camphill Community for Children in Need of Special Care in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1940 when he realised that medical intervention had certain limits.
“Koenig created a form of education for when they left school and Camphill’s role was to create a place for them to live and work and have a meaningful place in society. A lady in Hermanus wrote to him and he came to SA and started a school in Hermanus.
“When the kids got to school-leaving age they created Camphill West Coast in 1964 as a facility to provide employment and a home for them.”
Camphill fund-raiser Janine Strumpher said: “This year’s festival is now the third one. It started with our 50-year celebration in 2014. We built a stage and invited some bands to play. The residents loved it so we decided to make it an annual festival to create an extra cash injection to help pay for the residents’ living expenses. One of our donors came up with the name Off The Grid which is what the farm is all about.
“This year we excavated a pit to create a swimming ‘dam’ next to the stage area. There’s also a camp over area next to the dam so you can have fun and enjoy the day with the residents. You will be contributing to a good cause.”
Sleigh adds: “Camphill is a working organic farm where our 90 or so residents work the land. We have vegetable tunnels and a dairy herd where the milk is processed into our now famous yoghurt.
“We also have a bakery on site and one of the few jojoba bean plantations in South Africa which when harvested is pressed for the oil which we process into cosmetic products such as shower gels, etc. so not only does it provide work for our residents but it also help to sustain the farm’s running expenses.
“Our dairy is off the grid as the power is generated from a technology called thin film solar panels which are on the roofs of two barns. Our water is also off the grid and we aim to get the whole farm off the grid by the end of next year. As this is carbon neutral event we have a challenge for people to cycle from Cape Town to the festival.”
Some of the highlights include Majozi, Albert Frost, Aikhona, who is a young hip hop artist from the area and Stellenbosch-based indie-folk band Jackal and the Wind to name a few. Bootleggers blues band is again on the line-up.
Singer and harmonica player Terry Porter said: “We play up-tempo blues-rooted music and concentrate on songs that may be unfamiliar to people. We started in 2008 playing a lot of major venues. The band is made up of competent musicians such as bassist Dieter Stutz (ex Sweatband).
“We are a fun loving band and for us the opportunity to give back and help the community is great. What impresses us about this festival is the location. It’s the perfect festival environment. Come and enjoy the music and atmosphere and it’s for a good cause helping disadvantaged people.”
Freshlyground are also on the bill. They have played globally including the MTV awards in Nigeria and received the European MTV Best African award in Copenhagen. They have also performed Waka Waka (This Time For Africa) alongside Shakira at the 2010 World Cup.
Freshlyground lead singer, Zolani Mahola, says: “The highlight for me was sharing a stage with Stevie Wonder at Radio City Music Hall in New York. We also played alongside Oliver Mtukuvzi at the Harare Festival of the Arts.
“We are currently working on our sixth studio album and will be playing a lot of our old stuff and we will be giving the audience a sneak preview of the new songs.
“I have friends who work at Camphill so I’m looking forward to coming back. We love the live arena and haven’t played festivals in a while. This one is fantastic as it’s family-friendly and relaxed.”
Mahola’s message to the fans is: “Come with a positive attitude and connect with us for a good cause.”
Event: Off The Grid Music Festival
Where: Camphill Farm, West Coast
When: Tomorrow from 1pm.
Tickets: R220 (festival only), R250 (festival and camping), R110 (Kids 12-18), Free (Kids under 12) available at www.webtickets.co.za, Webtickets portal at selected Pick * Pay stores and at the gate.
Contact Janine Strumpher for anything to do with sponsorships for the residents by e-mailing [email protected]