A senior representative of the Camphill Communities of Ireland (CCI) has said the farm at its site in Duffcarrig has not been closed despite concerns to the contrary. Responding to a query regarding the status of the farmlands and its closure and/or imminent closure, Paul Henry, Land & Social Enterprise Lead with the CCI issued the following statement.
"I can confirm that the land-based activities are not closing at Duffcarrig. As with a number of our locations nationally there has been change in the model in recent years for a range of reasons. In recognition of that and of the particular place that the land and its use has always held within Camphill we are committed to exploring new ways which will continue to present the lands and their activities as an asset to the people we support.
We also see the land, green space, environment commitments to conservation and organic farming as unique features which Camphill has to offer and to use as a bridge builder with our neighbours and wider community. In that space we are in a process of exploring new opportunities for our land in a number of settings including Duffcarrig."
However, those living in the area are increasingly concerned that this much-loved amenity has been closed and are requesting some clarity on the situation there. In March of this year, Orla Woods, who lives in Ballymoney, wrote to the CCI to express her concerns regarding the farm, its staff and its livestock. The letter, dated March 15, reads, “In the past few days we have heard of the devastating news that the farm attached to Camphill, Duffcarrig is being closed with near immediate effect .This news within the community has been met with a huge feeling of sadness and support for the community which has been a part of the village and nearby town of Gorey for many years.
The farm has a huge connection to many people as their children have attended the kindergarten there and were all introduced to the animals and to the wonderful people who live and work there every day. The open days in the summer and Christmas although halted for the past two years have been so important to the wellbeing of the community as they welcomed their family and friends and the general public who would not have any knowledge of the amazing work that is done within the community. The pride that the residents show as they gave guided tours of the farm and gardens was so wonderful as they led people around introducing them to all the animals, these tours of the farm highlighted a different way of farming to so many people who would not have any other access to this and awakened in many a sense of peace and indeed spirituality with the place.
The importance of maintaining a wonderful biodynamic organic farm that has been running for 50 years is paramount in these challenging and difficult times for so many people and the upset felt by so many people over the past few days within the wider community of north Wexford has been immense. We understand the financial and indeed logistic challenges which is involved in managing these enterprises but I am not sure if you are aware just how important the farm is to everyone.”
Ms Woods ended her correspondence by requesting a meeting with an official from the CCI. In response Ms Woods was informed that “no decision has been made that the farm at Duffcarrig is ‘being closed with near immediate effect’ and that its plan was to “grow what we see as a unique asset in relation to our land based history”.
A further letter, seen by this newspaper, was sent by Ms Woods on May 5 of this year in which she writes that she had “just heard that the farmer is no longer employed there .As a community we had a meeting last night and are very concerned as to the future of the farm and the animals .Further to your last letter on your ambition to grow as you said a unique asset in your land based history we are wondering if you could enlighten us as to the future plans for the farm. We understand circumstances change within any organisation but as you expressed for us as a community to keep in touch we would prefer if the plan could be outlined to the community.”
Ms Woods requested a statement from the CCI to quell the speculation which had grown rife locally but, at the time of the writing, has yet to receive a response.