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Camphill Svetlana in Leningrad County

Russia: Camphill Svetlana is situated in a rural village, East of Saint Petersburg. Currently the community accommodates 18 adults with special needs, working together with about 20 co-workers. The initiative includes 4 houses, a bakery and a wood workshop and the farm and gardens are run according to biodynamic methods. The social community is one of the few initiatives in Russia, which offers a professional future to people with disabilities. Therefore Camphill Svetlana receives governmental funding. Unfortunately the financial aid is so low that Svetlana remains dependant on donations.

It takes a journey of 140 km towards the East, in order to get from Saint Petersburg to Camphill Svetlana. The initiative is located close to the Ladoga Lake at the banks of the river Syass. Compared to the vast property of their neighbours, the land of Svetlana is rather smaller.

A tour of the premises leads past the buildings belonging to the farm, a market garden, the fields, pasture land but also the wood- and toy workshop and finally the residential buildings of the village community. If you happen to be taking a stroll through the village, the friendly community members may come up to you, greet you and ask where you are from. They might also ask about your family. Before very long it can be surprising how much they have already found out about you, by the time you arrive at the residential buildings. The friendly people living at Svetlana enjoy an environment, which is kind of like a big family where they are appreciated and able to work.

Work at Svetlana Camphill is completely planned according to the season. During the long winters - sometimes 6 months of the year are blanketed white by snow - the activities are kept largely indoors. There is a wood workshop, where items such as vegetable and seedling boxes are built for use in the village, and a crafts workshop where dolls and felt crafts are made for sale abroad, and the processing of herbs into culinary herb-salts for local sale. But in contrast to the summer’s busy outdoor work life, the work week is structured to allow time for cultural activities: rehearsing and performing plays, learning and singing seasonal songs, and thrice weekly studies including Russian language, English, history, dance, painting and clay modelling. During summer and fall, everybody is collectively working on the farm. There is a lot of work, which has to be taken care of, on the potato fields, the fields of grain and fodder beets, as well as on the hay fields and pastures. Furthermore the animals of the farm need special care. Svetlana Camphill owns a herd of ten milking cows, a bull, some young animals, pigs and chickens.

The community tries to produce as much of their own food as possible, and have managed, since 1997, to be fully self-sufficient in terms of vegetables, milk, meat and dairy products (i.e. yoghurt, cheese, cream cheese, sour cream). Vegetables are stored over winter in a large earth cellar and herbs and seeds are dried and processed in a garden workshop above it. There is also a dairy that produces all the dairy products for the community village, as well as hard cheeses to be sold at local markets.

At first, Svetlana was not very welcome in the region. Every Sunday a few people from Camphill go to the nearby market in Volkhov to sell their products. In the beginning they would get a lot of stares and few people would stop at their stand. Fortunately this has changed fundamentally over the years. Today the initiative enjoys a good reputation, the products sell well and now the locals like to come by the stand to chat with the community members and ask questions about Svetlana Camphill. Furthermore Svetlana has gained the attention of the Russian media. Several newspaper articles and TV documentaries have helped the Curative Education initiative to achieve certain fame.

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