Benefits of the natural environment. How working with the land is a natural asset
Everyone at The Mount experiences the enormous privilege of being custodians of 25 acres of gardens, lawns, meadows and woodland. Since the very beginning of the Camphill Movement in 1940 the land has played an important role in the educational, social, therapeutic and economic endeavours of the various communities and so it is at The Mount.
First and foremost the land is the setting and backdrop for all experience and activity. The airy and peaceful open spaces, the abundance of natural vegetation, the awesome presence of a number of magnificent mature trees, the thriving wildlife and lively birdsong: all contribute to a feeling of harmony with nature which everyone can experience in the depth of their being and which is profoundly therapeutic. Everyone who is involved in the daily life and work can participate in the deep rhythm of the changing seasons and festival celebrations of the cycle of the year.
Along with this gift of wellbeing, the land provides the opportunity to produce a wide range of garden crops which are cultivated according to the Biodynamic principles indicated by Rudolf Steiner - an advanced form of organic farming and gardening in which the aim is to create a complete and self-sustaining natural organism on any given piece of land.
An enriching balance and exchange between all its component aspects can be established which enhances the quality and nutritious value of all resulting crops or animal products. These find their way into the kitchens and workshops of The Mount and help enormously to provide a healthy and balanced diet in all the houses. There is our own willow for basketry and wood both for firewood and for some uses in the wood workshop.
The land also provides a literally fertile ground for all sorts of planned and timetabled educational, training and productive activities which benefit both the individual student or supported cohouser and the community as a whole.
There is always something going on in the large walled garden or in the general care and management of the estate, ponds and woodlands. The bottom line is that there are always things which have to be done, but the way in which the various tasks are approached and planned can be tailored to meet the needs and objectives of each individual involved, ranging from the most fundamental challenges of physical coordination to the consciousness of being actively involved with others in conserving the natural environment and making use of its resources in various forms of social enterprise.
Working on the land provides all sorts of skills and lessons for life, including the development of responsibility, regularity, reliability, stamina, concentration and cooperation, all of which are essential for a successful work ethic.
At The Mount, as in over a hundred Camphill communities worldwide, there is a keen sense of responsibility for stewardship of the land, which brings with it in return a life-enhancing enrichment and wellbeing.