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Home News Vegetables, herbs and ants at Camphill Village West Coast!
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Vegetables, herbs and ants at Camphill Village West Coast! Print

On 27 June 2018, the Iimbovane project team intrigued a group of Camphill Village West Coast residents with interesting facts about ants.

The workshop was attended by 14 residents and 3 staff members of Camphill, all of who work in the village’s vegetable and herb gardens. The residents took part with great excitement and was eager to learn about the roles of ants in nature and to explore the ant diversity in their gardens.

Camphill Village West Coast is a dynamic community that provides a safe environment for intellectually challenged adults, where they can experience a meaningful and fulfilling life. It is set on a farm where the residents work at enterprises on the farm, for example, a bakery, dairy, herbal workshop, or in vegetable gardens, producing quality produce.

The workshop began with a brief introduction to the importance of ants and residents were surprised to hear there are more than just small black ants. They also found it interesting that the tunnels made by ants are important for aeration of the soil which is good for the crops in their vegetable and herb gardens.

After a brief background on ants and ant ecology, it was time to get the hands dirty and go outside for some active sampling. Residents searched for ants around the buildings, under rocks and in trees.

The next part of the day focussed on ant anatomy and participants had a lot of fun re-assembling an ant body puzzle and trying to figure out the legs from the antennae. Microscopes and identification keys were used to introduce residents to the tricks of giving an ant a scientific name. Using the microscopes and a scientific key, the residents were able to identify one or two ant species that they collected around the village.

The residents asked some interesting questions ranging from ants in Japan, to why ants have different colourations and whether it was due to their environment.

The workshop had a positive impact on all the participating residents, and for one resident in particular, as described by James Sleigh, Managing Director of Camphill Village West Coast.

Eckhart, who has been like a disinterested teenager, was so sparked and triggered by your workshop, that he went to Antonius (the farm manager) and asked him to teach him about the cows, and other animals, and said he now really wants to learn. The other residents too, have been really looking around at insects and asking about them. It really was so inspiring for everyone, so again, thank you.”


camphill collecting ants

 Camphill residents and the Iimbovane project team searching for ants around buildings, under rocks and in trees (Photo credit: James Sleigh)Camphill residents and   the Iimbovane project team searching for ants around buildings, under rocks and in trees (Photo credit: James Sleigh)

camphill microscope study 

 Camphill residents using microscopes to look at ants from close-up and to identify ant species (Photo credit:   James Sleigh)

camphill mimicking ants

 Camphill residents having fun with the Iimbovane project team and mimicking ants showing off their antennas (Photo credit: James Sleigh)


Camphill residents having fun with the Iimbovane project team and mimicking ants showing off their antennas (Photo credit: James Sleigh)