by Reingard Knausenberger and Shirley Marais
Having completed their tasks in Port Alfred, Shirley and Hennie are now part of the Afrikara Community living on the Hoekiesdam Farm in the western Cape. Afrikara (meaning ‘Spirit of Africa’) is a bio-dynamic training facility for student farmers wanting to learn sustainable agriculture and food security. Their training includes bio-dynamic principles, according to Rudolf Steiner, which are practiced on this farm.
Surrounded by conventional large-scale farming for the export market, Afrikara in contrast puts effort into healing the earth, improving the soil and not putting strain on existing resources and serving the local market.
In Port Alfred Hennie worked as a journalist for 15 years, first in mainstream media and then ran his own highly successful digital (online) newspaper for seven years. He shut that down last year, because he needed an operation on his shoulder and his surgeon banned him from using a keyboard for at least six weeks. He had been seriously considering making wooden toys and creating an online shop for anyone making toys and other things, and that is one of the things he is currently setting up, also with the aim of providing woodwork training to the agricultural students at Afrikara.
Shirley started off working as a journalist, with Hennie, mainly writing travel and entertainment articles and doing the language editing. This led to her becoming the chairperson of the Forum for Astronomy, Science and Technology, and doing various other miscellaneous things. She completed a Master of Arts Degree in Creative Writing at Rhodes University two years ago and started teaching creative writing. She also qualified as a Life Alignment practitioner and will continue doing all those things at Afrikara, as well as managing the spaces and accommodation there.
Hennie has taken charge of maintenance for the Community. Both are also involved in various aspects of training and supporting the Afrikara ideals. They also focus on expanding the non-agricultural earning potential of the Afrikara Community, such as creating holiday cottages and a backpacker facility.
The farm also hosts children and high school camps and volunteers, and is also currently training three student farmers, one of whom is Jason Higgins, who are registered with the Bio-Dynamic Association.
The farm is also an incubator for the Breede Valley Rehabilitation Initiative, particularly addressing the water crisis.
Where are they now?
Members of our congregation move away from Johannesburg. Whenever they visit us they feel immediately at home. In part this is through receiving our monthly newsletter. We too would hope to remain connected through these posts and learn something of their lives and where they are now living.