A homestead is defined as "a lifestyle of self-sufficiency characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small-scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale."
Khula Dharma invites those with a deep love for nature and a passion for living a sustainable/regenerative lifestyle to join our small community and establish a long-term homestead which exists in harmony with its surroundings.
This page will provide you with important information regarding the process of becoming a member.
Building a Homestead:
Developing a new homestead from scratch on an off-grid farm is a very demanding process and one which is not to be undertaken lightly. The time it will take for you to become self-sufficient will be determined by the site you choose, its proximity to the main roads and materials required for building, and your personal commitment and effort.
You will be required to produce all your own electricity using renewable technologies as well as to set up your own water infrastructure, both to harvest rainwater for drinking/cooking and to channel dam water to your homestead for irrigation.
The farm is equipped with large power tools such as a brush cutter, chainsaw, belt sander etc. that could be rented from time to time to save on costs of having to buy your own..
Unless you are extremely physically and mentally strong like our dear friend Mischa, who has single-handedly built his entire house over the course of a year, you might find yourself in need of labour from time to time. We are very fortunate to have two lovely families who live nearby who have been assisting us for many years and therefore have a lot of experience with natural building and farming who will be available for part time jobs.
Homestead Site Fee:
Once membership has been approved, you will then be required to pay a once-off fee for your own site.
The current price for a one-hectare site which can accommodate up to two families is R30 000.
Whilst we would prefer applicants to pay the joining fee in cash, as this would assist us with farm improvements such as repairing roads/building dams, we are also open to considering an applicant’s skills/talents as a form of value exchange based on the concept of the gift economy and would therefore be happy to negotiate an alternative method of payment.
Annual Dues and Fees:
We are well aware that we are living in difficult economic times and that many existing and potential community members will inevitably be financially constrained throughout the process of developing their site. We would therefore like to keep any monthly/yearly fees as minimal as possible so as to ensure that the majority of the funds are allocated to establishing a homestead.
There are however certain farm expenses which benefit the whole community which cannot be avoided such as maintenance to roads and water infrastructure which will require each homestead "unit" to contribute a monthly fee.
Maintenance Fee: R200 per unit per month (Roads, Water, Rates & Taxes, Fire Insurance etc.)
Vehicle Fee: R50 per vehicle per month.
Petty Cash Fee: R100 per unit per month (Upgrades to communal kitchen and infrastructure which the community benefit from)
Annual Community Service Requirement:
We encourage all members to partake in community gatherings and projects as much as possible to ensure we maintain a healthy and vibrant sense of community spirit and regenerate the farm as a whole beyond our individual sites.
- We currently meet together every Sunday evening at 6pm in the main hall for group meditation followed by a brief reading and discussion.
- We also try to make sure that we have at least 2 communal feasts/gatherings a month where each unit prepares a meal to bring.
- We have also started a reforestation project on the farm where we slowly start cutting back the black wattle and planting indigenous trees in their place. This takes place once a month for a few hours on a Saturday morning.
Frequently Asked Questions
- If I leave, do I get my Joining Fee back?
The Joining Fee is not refundable.
- How much would it cost to establish a self-sufficient homestead?
The total cost of establishing a homestead and a food forest will range widely depending on many variables such as design of your homestead and the speed at which you hope to develop it. The total cost of establishing and managing a homestead will therefore depend largely on the type of lifestyle one chooses to adopt when moving out here, and to what extent you are able to commit to living completely off the land and breaking free from the reliance on the cash economy. So, whilst the start-up costs may be rather high, the ongoing cost of living will gradually decrease until such a time where you may need very little to no money, which is an ideal we are striving towards.
- What are new members paying for when they join?
We are currently in the process of rezoning the farm to allow for new members to legally sign long-term leases for their sites. The initial buy-in fee therefore does not grant you title deeds to your site, but you will be allowed to occupy the space permanently with the option to either "sell" your site to someone else or to pass it down to your next of kin, provided they undertake and pass the screening process.
Community members are given co-stewardship of the land and are entitled to make full use of the community space and infrastructure such as the hall and workshop for any personal needs. They are also given the option to attend community meetings and to play a role in determining the farm's future, provided they show commitment and support in sharing the burden of the administrative, social, physical and cultural work required to create a thriving intentional community.
Members will not be asked to pay for any farm expenses such as maintenance or upgrades to communal infrastructure as these costs will be generated by The Hill and the monthly membership fees.
- What are Khula Dharma's current expenses?
Annual Operating Expenses: Wages, rates and taxes, farm insurance, maintenance and upgrades to community buildings and water/energy infrastructure, establishing a communal food forest, road repair.
- What are Khula Dharma's sources of income?
We have been undergoing a slow and steady change of ownership over the past few years.
The farm is currently owned by a single owner who has 100% shares of the Khula
Dhamma CC in which the title deeds for the farm are situated. The owner has already expressed genuine interest in ensuring that all members' long term stability and security is ensured.
We are therefore only in the early phases of establishing ways of generating an income.
The farm is currently funded largely by donations from the current farm owner. The Hill currently makes a small income from selling its produce and from joining, membership and visitors fees. We have also begun running courses and immersive workshops centred around natural farming and sustainable living as a means to generate larger amounts of steady income.
Our vision is to establish a processing centre on the hill which will be equipped to be able to add value to crops such as nuts and moringa, as well as any other products produced by community members. These value-added products can then be sold/traded on the farm or sold at nearby farmers markets.
- What did the property cost?
The cost of the farm at the time of purchase (2015) was approximately 2.8 million
- What is the current ownership structure on the farm?
The farm is currently owned by a single owner who has 100% shares of the Khula Dhamma CC in which the title deeds for the farm are situated. Whilst other community members do not own any shares in the farm, everyone partakes in community meetings and are given a voice during the decision-making process, especially when it comes to issues which affect the entire community.
- If Khula Dharma disbanded as a community or undergoes a change of ownership structure, what would the implications for members be?
We are in the processing of writing up a constitution for the farm in which we intend to include a formal agreement on land use and common rights as site holders. This agreement will seek to ensure that you will possess the right to legally occupy your site indefinitely, regardless of the ownership structure on the farm.
The current owner has already expressed a genuine interest in ensuring the long-term safety and security of the community members by making an existing member a beneficiary of the trust which owns the farm and any funds required to keep the Khula Dharma vision alive.
We are also looking into other options regarding how to legally structure the farm in a way which is most suitable for establishing an intentional community such as transferring the farm into a trust whereby members either become trustees or beneficiaries and are recognized as co-stewards/custodians of the land with no hierarchy.
There are a number of complex bureaucratic issues associated with these legal processes and it may take some time before we are able to come to some sort of resolution which will benefit everyone.