Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Workshops, Guests and Visitors

As always lots of things have been happening   - including a number of workshops mostly returnees, various groups on weekend getaways and numerous other guests and visitors.   Not all events and guests have gotten to be photographed but here are the pics we have.

Young in Prison

This group which focuses on the situation of young offenders returned to Fynbos this time for a short strategic workshop.


We had a blast, thank you and will be back again next year. We plan to make it our annual retreat venue.
Tarisai (Co-ordinator)

APC (Association for Progressive Communications)

We stayed at Fynbos on 26 and 27 November as we needed space and time and quiet to plan and write parts of a Toolkit our organisations are jointly developing. Fynbos is a place I've visited many times, bringing members of my organisation, The Association for Progressive Communications, and every time I love the space, food, people, dogs, donkeys, trees and that mountain that calls me to climb it every morning. As do the people I bring along!

This time I brought along friends from Just Associates Southern Africa, an amazing feminist organization which “believes that women who are most affected by the political, economic, environmental and health crises reverberating across the world are on the frontlines of change.
While they rarely have a seat at the decision-making table, they are experts and leaders who are organizing their communities, developing solutions and promoting justice—often at great risk for going against the grain."

We're jointly developing a Toolkit to assist feminist activists to think through the use of technologies in their communications strategies in a way that supports feminist movement building. The toolkit demystifies technology, and is a practical tool which feminist activists can apply to their work and use of technologies. In sum, it aims to help women activists do what they do better in the changing world of technology.

It's no small task! We're nearly there though and Fynbos offered us a beautiful and nurturing space to reflect, debate, think and write.

Where's the next project? I need to get back to Fynbos!

Jennifer Radloff
Women's Rights Programme Coordinator
Association for Progressive Communications

For more info go to www.apc.org, www.takebackthetech.net | www.genderit.org

NG Kerk Church Ministers on Retreat and family Getaway

This lovely group first came to us in 2011 from the La Rochelle parish, in Bellville.   This time as before, four pastors spent four days in retreat  following  a weekend in which their families joined them for a getaway . Since we are multi-denominational, we are always delighted when different spiritual groups find their way to Fynbos.


Once again we had a wonderful time  Thank  you. 
Pastor Willem Venter.

Shambhala weekthün 

The Shambhalan Buddhist annual retreat over Christmas and New Year brought welcome stillness to the farm allowing us all to breathe out in the middle of our hectic summer season. Marna and Rensche did some of the cooking for us which allowed both Johan and I to participate in some of the meditation sessions. Next year we hope to join in more fully.

More about the Weekthün

This traditional weekthün included up to eight hours of daily sitting and walking meditation, punctuated with talks, meditation instruction, contemplative practices and discussions. Part of the retreat was in silence and participants were given individual sessions with Shastri Jennifer Woodhull around their practice.

The goal of the retreat was to deeply nourish and support the spiritual journey of participants, and from feedback it seems this was the case for everyone attending.

Here are some comments 

Fynbos provides the most sublime context in which to practice meditation and mindfulness. The gorgeous natural surround has a magical quality to it that encourages the true sense of home. The wonderful hosts, Diana and Johan, and their respectful and generous staff provide the care, safety and containment needed for the practice. A great bonus is the delicious vegetarian meals served on our retreat that truly nourish and support the practice. It is a space that gets under my skin and that my body longs for each year.
Pippa Dowding  (Retreat Co-ordinator)

What a piece of paradise is Fynbos Farm! We’ve just returned from our third annual meditation retreat at the farm, and I can’t imagine a more beautiful or supportive environment in which to undertake the demanding work of meditating seven hours a day. The valley in which the farm is nestled feels a million miles from the bustle of the city – though it’s scarcely an hour away by car. Every year I visit, there is deepening evidence of Johan and Diana’s dedication to shaping the land into something where all can flourish – human, animal, and plant alike. The massive trees, the baby owls, the rolling hills of vine and olive – the many summer scents of the farm: honeysuckle, plectranthus, wild garlic; – all these encircled by mountains well on their way to becoming a gloriously restored indigenous biome. And as if all these environmental pleasures weren’t enough, there’s the unforgettable food. What delectable homemade ice-creams! A sweet red-onion tarte tatin to break your heart! A million thanks to our hosts and their sweet, hard-working staff for making our retreat a real holiday. We’ll be back. Again and again.
Andrew Putter

And we received a poem from Carol Low who is also part of the Shambhalan community now living in the UK.  She tells us that the first few words of this poem formed here at Fynbos, on an early morning walk in 2013.  It was finished in December 2014.

Nascence Slip lines of dawn
Eye-open the hills
Heartening our birdsong 
From question marks to
Here we are! 
Here - at the crest 
Here the light 
Here the heat
Here she blazes 
Shattering the seed 
Bursting the bud 
Raising the possibility of butterflies. ......

 Carol Low


This workshop was particularly nice for us as it was the first time Barn venue was used as a residential self catered workshop venue.   They seemed to have a productive time as well as partying a bit given that it was the end of 2014 and all.  And they promised to send us a list of ways to make the venue even more suitable for workshops such as theirs.

A little bit about SANBI

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) leads and coordinates research, and monitors and reports on the state of biodiversity in South Africa. The institute provides knowledge and information, gives planning and policy advice and pilots best-practice management models in partnership with stakeholders. SANBI engages in ecosystem restoration and rehabilitation, leads the human capital development strategy of the sector and manages the National Botanical Gardens as 'windows' to South Africa's biodiversity for enjoyment and education.
For more info go to www.SANBI.org


The Fynbos Estate is so rustic and beautiful it makes you feel like you're living on a farm with some luxuries, minus the farm labour. The surrounding natural veld is amazing and the fresh air was very nice after a session of hard work. I enjoyed the layout of the farm, as work and social activities could be separated and there was enough space to have quiet time and also to let loose when we needed to energize after a work session. The service was friendly and the owner was very eager to assist if we needed anything. I would gladly return to Fynbos Estate with my own family in the near future.Dewidine from SANBI

Overall our experience was very good – and I think for most the highlight was the morning drive we took to the top of the hill. 
The pool pictures could be captioned as the team taking a change in scenery and continuing our meeting about communications and marketing in the coolth of the pool.
Gigi Laidler  SANBI

Info on CREW

Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) Programme

CREW, the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers, is a programme that involves volunteers from the public in the monitoring and conservation of South Africa's threatened plants. The programme is a partnership between the SANBI, Botanical Society of South Africa and the KZN Biodiversity Stewardship Programme.

CREW data is also used during the EIA process to influence development decisions. This data also assists in fine scale conservation plans that help municipalities determine which areas should be allocated to conservation in their integrated and spatial development frameworks.

Since the inception of the CREW programme in 2003 we have discovered 24 new species, rediscovered 14 species and collected data on 1030 species of conservation concern.

Other  Guests and Visitors

Rosemary Marzio from Lyon, Mike Humphrey from Brisbane, Shiraz Limbada from Lusaka, Winemaker Erika  Diane and Andrea Alkalay from Canada, Estelle Harkess and friends, Leah Blanchard and her friends from Australia.

Top left clockwise: 1) Loni, Gail, Zoe, ALan & Johan. 2) Erika , Shiraz Limbada and Johan. 3) Day visitors and 4) Feeding the donkeys. 5) Relaxing on the front stoep. 6)  Carl and small friend.

Top left clockwise: 1) Estelle Harkess and friends 2) Andrea and Diane Alkalay. 3) Mike Humphrey with Diana and Johan. 4) Leah Blanchard and friends. 5) Diane and Andrea Alkalay. 6)  Rosemary Marzio and Johan.

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