100 up for Adams Farm House

From left committee member Jenny Henderson, administrator Pat Baudains, chairman and trustee Peter Ryan, trustee Sheila Holliday and house committee chairwoman Helene OSullivan. Committee member Llewynn Maralack is not pictured but was present at the party

Adams Farm Home in Plumstead is celebrating its centenary this year with various events.

In August staff held a cocktail party for family, trustees and guests.

Located in spacious grounds with a swimming pool on the corner of Main and Victoria roads, in Plumstead, Adams Farm provides long-term residential care for intellectually disabled women.

“We cannot begin to imagine the trauma faced by families of these women prior to the home as there was nowhere for them to go,” said chairman and trustee Peter Ryan.

Originally known as the Society for the Care of Mental Defectives, it has an interesting history (“Haven for women at Adams farm,” Bulletin November 11, 2011). A group of people established the home in 1917 with only six residents. With help from the government, four properties were acquired at Adams Farm. No one appears to know who Adams was. In fact Peter Coates, a guest at the party, said it was a vlei and known as Baas Aries Kraal and was south west of where the Blue Route Mall now stands.

In 1919 the home comprised three houses, a shed and 30 acres of land where poultry, pigs and cows roamed. The following year a licence was issued for 12 more women, who stayed in one of the houses. A second house was set up in 1928, with 18 additional women.

To supplement government subsidies, dressed poultry, eggs, surplus milk and butter were sold, as well as flowers and vegetables from the considerable gardens. The minutes of meetings show many problems with poultry thieves, wild cats in the chicken runs and broody hens.

All this was back-breaking work but the laundry service was an even greater task. Old pictures hanging in the cosy foyer show a corrugated iron shed housing cement washing troughs. Collections and deliveries were made to customers from Fish Hoek to Plumstead, collected and delivered by horse-and-cart.

Times were extremely hard and running a farm with only a foreman and a labourer, helped by 30 mentally challenged women, resulted in the home getting into financial difficulties in 1947. The government considered closing it.

By 1950, the society realised that it was uneconomical to cultivate 30 acres of land and applied for subdivision into a township. Two years later this was approved but no buyers could be found until 1964, when the excess land was sold for
R36 000. The sale meant the society could now reconstruct the old homesteads.

Mr Coates said he was four years old at the time. His parents were involved in charitable work and he recalls the “big drama” as they struggled to find alternative accommodation for the women. They eventually stayed at the Cape Times Froggy Pond Fresh Air Camp.

However, historical records show that disaster struck. The architect was told that there was no provision in the Housing Act for the construction of homes for mentally disabled people at special low housing interest rates. After negotiations, the society succeeded in having the law changed.

All this took time so the patients once again had to find alternative accommodation, now at the old False Bay Hospital in Simon’s Town.

The women stayed there until they moved into the new home in Vans Road, Tokai, in April 1966 where they remained for 11 years.

The move to Plumstead took place in August 1987 when Blue Route Mall expressed a desire to expand further. An agreement was concluded with the developers and they sourced and purchased the Plumstead land and established the home. Extensions took place in 1994 to add seven more beds bringing the total number of women to 50.

The home provides care for women aged 18 to 50 with moderate mental disabilities. Most stay until they are well into old age, unless they develop dementia or are physically too difficult to nurse, in which case they are moved into a frail-care facility.

The women spend days with occupational therapists and a social workers who provide therapy sessions and craft classes. They also help with laundry and other housework.

Pat Baudains, administrator of the home, said they invited the community to visit and mix with the residents and get to know what goes on there.

Adams Farm Home will be having more centenary events during the year. To offer your support contact 021 797 4758, or email info@adamsfarm.co.za

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