Camphill Village Kimberton Hills is part of the international Camphill Movement. This nonprofit organization and intentional community, founded in 1972, is made up of volunteers living and working side by side with adults who have developmental disabilities. It is located on 432 acres in Chester County and is a model for sound ecological living. Their mission is to maintain a land-based community in which the members support one another and contribute to society through biodynamic agriculture, handcrafts, and other ecological, social, cultural, and educational endeavors.
One of Kimberton Hills’ founding members, Helen Zipperlen, says, “Camphill was involved with a wave of remarkable people and organizations responding to the new perceptions of “the handicapped” as human beings – “people first” – people with so-called disabilities. This army of vulnerable, hitherto largely invisible people raised awareness and questioning of the whole idea of community.”
People of the Camphill community work together in all aspects of life and work, including in their dairy, Sankanac CSA garden, Sweet Water Baking Company, and Camphill Café.
The Award-Winning Dairy
Camphill Village Kimberton Hills’ certified organic biodynamic raw milk dairy farm is tended to by a crew of up to 10 farmers including villagers (adults with developmental disabilities) and coworkers (volunteers and long-term volunteer residents). On the farm, they practice rotational grazing, and the cattle are fed on pasture from April through November. The majority of their herd is Brown Swiss and Friesian. In the winter, the cows are kept in loafing sheds and are fed grass-based silage. They don’t supplement grain or soy products – only kelp salt and free choice minerals along with their grazing.
Dairy co-manager, Jessica, shared with us that the dairy switched to once-per-day milking in recent years: “We felt that once a day milking would add to the holistic approach of farming that we wanted to maintain. It allowed us to be able to manage the farm in a sustainable way where we could work on improvements to the land and with our social therapeutic mission while the cows ate and relaxed the rest of the day. It was also an opportunity to increase the cows health as well as their babies health. With once a day milking we have the mothers raise their calves instead of us bottle feeding them. It has truly changed the herd model where the calves run with the herd and learn from the herd. On top of that, being a 100% grass fed cow dairy, it is important to allow the cows to have access to nutritious pastures throughout the day as long as possible. Since we have changed to once a day milking we have seen increases in health of the cows and the calves.
Our milking protocols are detailed and precise. Being a certified raw milk dairy means that we are under stricter guidelines than pasteurized dairy farms. We pay close attention to each individual cow and their health during milking and on pasture.”
The Kimberton Community
Kimberton Hills Dairy supplies Weckerly’s with milk to make their locally-loved ice cream. They also provide milk to their own community as well as other nearby Camphill communities. In addition, Kimberton Hills Bakery is run by the same staff that operates Sweet Water Bakery. The butter used to make the cookies is made in house with milk from Kimberton Hills Dairy.
At Kimberton Whole Foods, we are fortunate to offer their high-quality, delicious raw milk. Jessica shares, “Our cows’ healthy, nutritious, healing, raw milk is one of the most wondrous fluid milk products on the shelf. Next time you see Kimberton Hills raw milk in the store check out the rich golden yellow color it exhibits. That golden characteristic comes from the beta-carotene in grass. It’s the richest raw milk you’ll find locally.”