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Family Dairy Farm Experience

The farm is a family-run dairy farm that has successfully grown from its original mixed-agriculture and milk production activities to its current operations that includes the processing of milk for cheese, yoghurt, butter and ice-crea, a highly popular farmstall and coffee shop offering a wide assortment of produce for retail and in-house consumption, plus an established horticultural seedling and plant retail nursery.

Organic Farm Experience

Overview:

Location The Crags, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Duration From 2 - 12 weeks
Dates February – November (Anyone wishing to stay over December MUST commence by mid- November)
Requirements
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: Practical energy and a willingness to embrace the many learning opportunities that can be experienced in agriculture and horticulture, plus adding value in product and retail hospitality
Minimum Age: 18
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance
Day of arrival Sunday
Day of departure Sunday

Highlights

  • Get thoroughly acquainted with all practical aspects of dairy farm routine including animal husbandry, milking, birthing, feeding plus their in-house processes of adding value to their diary-based and baking products for local marketing and sale.
  • Participate in the daily activities of a busy and highly successful farm stall, coffee-shop and bakery selling local artisanal products plus bakes and visitor refreshments.
  • Enjoy hands-on involvement in a wholesale and retail horticultural nursery - much of it being indigenous flora.
  • Participate in the daily activities of a busy and highly successful farm stall, coffee-shop and bakery selling local artisanal products plus bakes and visitor refreshments.
  • Experience the many naturally beautiful areas in the immediate areas of The Crags, Nature's Valley, Plettenberg Bay area and broader Garden Route region.
  • Choose from a long list of adventure activities to add to your experience – including the world’s highest bridge bungy, swimming with seals, marine safaris, river-rafting, sky-diving, horseback trail outrides etc.
  • Enjoy a comfortable, busy yet supportive home-stay environment (with all needed mod-cons) surrounded by open agricultural pastures and indigenous forests away from the usual routine of urban living.
  • Make new friends from all over the world.

Information about the farm

There are a significant number of the operation’s diverse functions that the volunteer can get involved with to expand their personal knowledge and horizons; from behind-the-scenes routine farming activities such as pasture and livestock management, or involvement with horticultural plants from seedling stage onwards through to interfacing with the general public at their retail and day-restaurant outlet.

Central to the owners agricultural interests is their dairy herd – from insemination, pregnancy caring, calving, weaning and feeding  through to milking – a 24/7 responsibility throughout the year with routine daily milking sessions in the early morning and early afternoon. Outside of this, there’s the long list of small but essential items associated with farming – including water management issues, pasture growing and harvesting, supplementary feeding, veterinary care, paddock and fencing maintenance, invasive alien vegetation control, fire-breaks, infrastructural building and equipment maintenance and repair.

A further aspect of their operation is the established horticultural nursery, in itself an interesting operation which includes the usual retail processes, while behind the scenes are all the steps and processes involved in running the nursery – composting, seeds, seedling stimulation, potting, nutrition and care of garden display and nutritional plants – blossoms, fruit and vegetables.  While work with plants is seasonal, there is always something to do to prepare beds and plants for the future.

Your role

You will generally work five days per week with the option of weekends off but may, due to personal interest and seasonal demand, discuss the options of working part- or full-weekends and public holidays on a roster system by agreement with management. Given the hands-on nature of exposure to all facets of this business’ activities, you will undoubtedly have plenty of scope to not only make your contribution but expand your general exposure and skills acquisition for the future.

Monday to Friday work could include:

  • From 07.00: Breakfast.
  • 07.45 – 07.50: Transfer from your accommodation to the project.
  • 08.00 – 13.00: Participation in morning routine activities according to the programme – a mix of dairy farm, nursery and/or farm-stall.
  • 13.00 – 14.00: Lunch break – flexible and varied.
  • 14.00 – 17.00: Afternoon programme (could possibly include milking). After your work transfer from the project to your accommodation.
  • 17.00 onwards: Leisure time.
  • 19.00 – 19.30: Dinner with the home-stay team and leisure time.

Weekends:

  • Friday evenings: Traditionally, a braai (BBQ) takes place on Fridays with the meal served around 8 PM. The outdoor hot tub is often fired up for this evening. You are also free to make arrangements to head into Plettenberg Bay if your wish to enjoy the nightlife there.
  • Saturdays: Generally, this is a free day so open to individual choice. 
  • Sundays: As on Saturdays, you can enjoy free time. Please note that most shops are closed.

Any public holidays, whether falling on weekdays or weekends, will follow the Saturday/Sunday routine.

It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the volunteer, the time of year and the work that needs to be done. The final job description can therefore vary substantially from the above.

Accommodation

The accommodation is set in a 5-hectare small-holding amidst indigenous forest and open grazing pastures in The Crags and about 25 minutes from the main town of Plettenberg Bay.

You are accommodated in fully equipped, shared two-bed rooms, with bedding & towel provided, so might be sharing with another volunteer of the same gender. There are numerous bathrooms for communal access and use. Volunteers have full use of the well-equipped kitchen plus the two verandah areas - with large fire-places. It is here that guests and hosts gather for social interaction and where evening meals are served for all to enjoy.

A large group entertainment area complete with an under-cover combination plunge-pool/hot tub, a bar facility plus an outdoor braai (BBQ) area are provided. Friday is officially declared as “Braai day” with local residents visiting for sundowners and a braai to mark the end of the week with the team and guests. The property also provides a golf practice putting green and a proper boule/petanque track.
Free WiFi is available at the main homestead and entertainment areas only.

Three daily meals are provided. You will make your own breakfast and lunch. Both vegetarian & vegan options, as well as any special dietary requirements, are available.

Testimonials

Good Hope Volunteers Simon from Germany

“I learned a lot about farming because the owners really made an effort to get me to do everything that was possible.”