Come and help at a farm with a nursery, vegetable gardens in Swellendam, South Africa


South Africa


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 Min stay requested: at least 2 weeks

  • Description


    We are now well established on the family farm following a few successful seasons. Most of our longer term projects are finished or nearing completion.

    Renovations to upgrade the barn to a rustic wedding/events venue catering for 48 people is half way. The deck is great, doors to follow.

    The small (and expanding) nursery continues to provide the trees and other plants we need to green the farm. Mulch, chop-and-crop, recycle, repurpose and multi-use are not words any more but part of life on the farm. Greens and herbs for the table comes from the gardens.

    The cottages rented out for extra income and the ongoing documentation of the indigenous fauna and flora is going well.

    We keep some animals and try to integrate them into our longer term goals. The cattle graze on the small pastures around the house, keeping the grass short and thus maintaining a low fuel load fire break. They save us from mowing while looking pretty. Chickens, ducks and geese are used to feed in the orchard and garden, taking grubs, seedlings and greenery. They provide us with eggs and meat. The dogs, the undisputed stars of the farm, sleep in the sun, chase baboons, take visitors on walks, charm volunteers and scare chickens. All in one day.

    I'm keen on expanding my Spanish, German and Hebrew.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    DIY and building projects
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    General Maintenance
    Farmstay help
    Help around the house
    Animal Care
    Language practice

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    You will live on a fairly traditional farm in South Africa applying somewhat unusual soil caring techniques for the area. Traditional farming is still very strong and banana circles, permaculture and swales are quite foreign.

    We visit friends and family often and usually try to take volunteers with. We also receive personal guests on the farm and there will be many opportunities to meet locals. It is safe to independently cycle the 7km to Swellendam and meet the local townspeople.

    The farm borders the mountainous Marloth Nature Reserve and there are plenty opportunities to get out and explore.

    While I understand that a short stay is attractive to fit more activities to your travel plan I would (somewhat selfishly) advise against it. Longer stays have the benefit of getting to know people and a community well. Short stays are fairly touristy. You will not be bored on the farm. Your level of participation is your own decision. We welcome enthusiasm.

  • Help


    We would need volunteers to help with general day to day activities, upkeep and maintenance. We expect sporadic projects of a building or gardening nature. We like to use the special skills people bring to the farm.

    Routine tasks include:
    Feeding of young animals if we have any
    Cutting alien plants to chip for mulch in the garden
    Planting perennial grasses in the paddocks to feed cattle
    Planting trees, local indigenous for shade and windbreak, others for food, etc
    Laying out of vegetable and other gardens, upkeep of current gardens
    Cleaning the two cottages we rent out to tourists
    Playing with the dogs and taking them on walks, or rather let them take you for walks

  • Languages spoken

    Afrikaans: Fluent
    English: Fluent
    Spanish: Beginner
    Hebrew: Beginner

  • Accommodation


    Room/s in main house. Sometimes we move volunteers to the dormitory depending on our personal guests. The dorm has four single beds double stacked. Locker, etc. Two bathrooms, not en-suite. Full kitchen access. This accommodation is separate (a few steps away) from the main homestead where we live.

    We provide food for all meals. Volunteers are encouraged to partake and serve up dishes that remind them of home or their chosen lifestyle. As the gardens are expanding our focus is shifting more to field-to-fork than shopping. We like to forage too and if you are lucky (and it is in season) we'll collect mushrooms (cepps) and berries (eg. brambles and goose berries) in the fields and plantation. We use meat, eggs, milk and other animal products. Some animals come from the farm, some for other places. We consider the industry practices specific to the animals in the context of South Africa when we do purchase. We welcome tasty alternatives. There is a lot to learn.

    *️️️️️️️️dayzero*️️️️️️️️ The house and cottages rely on rain water for drinking and household use. This is a limited resource. We strongly encourage thoughtful use of water. *️️️️️️️️dayzero*️️️️️️️️

    *noise* We live on a farm. Being a normal farm we have sources of noise. At the moment we have two alien clearing teams, one dairy farmer that rents some of our land and two pine plantation processing teams. They are sources of noise. From December 2018 till May 2019 we had plantation operations that included the cut, processing and hauling of large volumes of wood. Since February 2020 this is happening again. As work can be anything from a few hundred meters away to several kilometers it is hard to predict how noisy it will be at the homestead. Naturally this happens during working hours and the evenings and weekends are typically dead quiet. So, we're not a holiday farm and we're not a nature reserve but rather a normal working farm. If this sounds too busy for you we would suggest considering other hosts. *noise*

    * We do not have internet. Well, we do, but the expensive satellite connection is reserved for the online booking system.
    * The Vodacom booster is now active. Expect good signal in the house. If you fly in from abroad we suggest getting a Vodacom SIM.
    * Mobile signal overall improved significantly with the removal of the pine plantation.
    * The top of the hill behind the house has better signal. This is a good spot to see the sun set, get bitten by mosquitoes and chat with your friends back home.
    * If you complain about the lack of internet you'll be put in charge of the relay tower construction on the highest hill for our Rain LTE connection. You did not come to Africa for the internet anyway, did you?

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    The local town, Swellendam, has recently been named a top ecofriendly destination and is 7km away. Is has a real sense of history and are a popular stop over between Cape Town and the Garden Route. As a result there are many restaurants and eateries catering to all tastes. Volunteers walk, cycle and taxi there and back. We often drive to town, so there is plenty opportunity to get to a small rural town (17000 people) that stock the basics that one need.

    The cheese shop on the way to town is worth a visit. The berry farm where you can pick your own in season too. Off season they have liqueur tasting and a selection of frozen berries.

    We are well located in the Western Cape: Two hours from Cape Town on the N2, an hour from the coast, and hour from Route 62 in the Klein Karoo and two hours from the Garden route. Several shuttle and bus services connects to towns and cities: Greyhound, Intercape, Langeberg Mini-bus, Potgieter Mini-bus, Bloukraan Shuttle, Citiliner, City to City and Translux busses. We like going on day trips around the area.

    I'm a member of the Botancal Society of South Africa, the Cycad Society of South Africa, the Dendrological Society of Swellendam, the Friends of Marloth group, the Swellendam Ramblers group, an occasional visitor to the Swellendam Garden club and am a pilot member of the Swellendam Concervancy. I present an open garden at the farm from time to time to show people what gardening with local indigenous plants only is like. I do talks and outings with people in nature related subjects. I'm well connected with local environmental experts. We try to go on outings as often as we can. You might or might not be present when any of these happen. If you want you can experience and learn a lot. If you need more you need to find it yourself.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Can host digital nomads

    Can host digital nomads

    Quiet office available. LTE internet at own cost. Rain unlimited LTE due in the area soon.

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    We run a small campsite and have had campervan volunteers in the past.

  • Can possibly acccept pets

    Can possibly acccept pets

    Our dogs are well behaved and used to other dog visitors. Most of the time they match really well.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

The masters of reed, Magnus, Natalie and Nikolas. Spanish reed removed from the river system. To be used for screens. Alien plants processed into useful items. Win-win!
Taking a swim in the river
The keepers of the guard. Optel, Spikkeljan and Skollie
The very rampant banana circle at Jansehuis. It is now 18 months old.
The coops and kennels are now nearly complete. We have started planting fruit trees around it but many more needs to be planted
Chuan and Belen from Spain planting the corner posts of the camping plots
Livio and Amandine from France digging a wide and shallow drainage channel
Sam and Becca from the UK planting indigenous trees to form a wind break
Time for a rest!
Hard work rewarded, picnic under the trees. With a view.
Propagation time, over 200 rose cuttings for next season
We like to add value to our produce. This is quince jelly made from the peels, cores and other offcuts of the fruit.

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Host ref number: 377523719967