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Unique farm in Angus provides supportive community for aging individuals

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In Angus, a 300-acre farm called Camphill, funded by donors and the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, is home to a community for aging individuals needing support.

"A peaceful place but a community to support them, and they can walk around freely from building to building. They can congregate with friends. They can take part in some of the various activities on the farm," said Kathy Downes, the executive director of the Camphill Foundation of Canada.

While Camphill hosts 23 individuals with special needs who now have cows and goats as pets, there are plenty more waiting for housing. They say the provincial waitlist doubled from 9,000 to 18,000 people since the pandemic began.

"There are literally thousands of people on the Ontario waitlists. The waitlist in Ontario for supportive housing is over 23 years long," explained Downes.

One of Camphill's newest residents says he has transformed physically and mentally since joining this community less than a year ago.

"I was in a hospital for five years. I was in a hospital because I was smoking cigarettes and doing drugs and drinking beer," said Jay, whose last name is not being shared for privacy reasons.

Many of the supported individuals find purpose at Camphill in daily tasks ranging from artwork to shovelling the driveway.

"There are seniors that I help out here, so I make sure the walkway is safe for them. It gets me out of the group home and gives me something to do. It keeps me active all morning. Usually around 10:30, they have coffee, and they give me a cookie to eat," said Jay.

"It provides a lot of opportunity, but you're right; the purpose is something that drives a lot of them. It really makes them feel like a valued contributing member of the community," added Downes.

Jay says one reason he likes Camphill is the connections he has built with staff and other companions.

"It helps me now. It teaches me how to be patient and kind. They're very caring," he explains.

I don't know too many places that exist like this. It's a bit of a piece of heaven," said Downes.

On November 18, Camphill is hosting its holiday market that will sell everything from handcrafted items like pottery and woodwork to maple syrup as it continues to try and fundraise to provide more housing and maintain its properties.

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