Est 1962, and still here

Our new GM, Sharon Theron, introduces herself, her passion for Cluny Farm, and her vision for its future:

Being a middle-aged woman with not much knowledge on tech, I thought of venturing into the unknown to share some of the amazing stories along my journey at Cluny Farm Centre (probably the best kept secret in Joburg).


There is a beautiful farm, within tranquil countryside nestled in Sun Valley, Kyalami. A farm that provides care, occupational rehabilitation and respite care for persons with intellectual disabilities.

From the moment I saw the farm I fell in love with it and the amazing people living there. Ok, so not my farm but I applied for a position as General Manager of Cluny Farm, an assisted living facility for persons with intellectual disabilities. I think history has a tendency to repeat itself. I have been in the NGO sector for umpteen years and always found myself leaning towards advocacy for persons with disabilities. Or shall I rather say: persons with other abilities.

Some history

So, back to the beginning: Helene McDougal was born in France in 1911. She grew up in a family that was fond of camping and exploring the unknown. Her husband moved them to South Africa when he joined the army to fight in WWII. She bought a farm in Kwazulu-Natal in order to be able to provide for her children and herself.

It was there during 1948 that Helene got to know Nongash. She was an intellectually disabled black girl, living on the farm with her parents. Helene wanted to create an environment where a disabled person could live and work protected from the harshness of normal society. Nongash was the inspiration for 7 working farms for Intellectually Disabled people that Helene started in France and in South Africa. Today the views have evolved to a more rights-based approach to include persons with different abilities in meaningful employment and creating a society that accepts and embraces persons with intellectual disabilities.

After initially starting the South African Centre on her farm in Kwazulu-Natal, Helene decided to move it closer to Johannesburg. On 28 August 1962 they moved in at the current farm and called it Cluny. Initially it was a small piece of land with only a few scattered buildings. The first proper living quarters were later built and called Forest Inn. During the first year they also acquired the next door farm called Melody.

After the first year they had 27 residents permanently living and working on the farm. Some of our oldest living residents have already been at Cluny for more than 40 years. And have in their lifetime contributed so much in the building of the farm.

Farming activity was the primary function on the Farm. Having a fully functional dairy/bakery and crops grown on the farm made them self-sustainable.

In the last decade or so the farm was run down and neglected, and was struggling financially as a non-profit organization with residents getting older and not being able to compete with an ever-growing business sector.

Full steam ahead

So today Cluny Farm is a gem in the making. My story begins with the journey of restoring it to its former glory. (I am a sucker for a good before and after story anyways). I would like to share our vision and ideas and take you on this amazing journey of community and caring and amazing people on our way to destination Sustainability. All profits get ploughed back into the Cluny Farm Centre and its residents.

Before becoming all judgemental – let me state in no uncertain terms there is a long journey ahead. We need expertise and input from the community and experts, and financial investment and support to make these dreams reality. The farm should remain the gem of a place for persons with intellectual disabilities as intended by Helene to create meaningful employment for them.

Having said that inputs and ideas are greatly appreciated. Watch this space for regular updates and enjoy the exciting journey of building a sustainable working farm.

So the general theme will always be in the background as we share our daily activities, stories, successes, failures, collaborations etc. and as we grow into a sustainable model Non Profit Organization.


Cluny Farm Centre is a registered and compliant Non Profit Organisation situated in Sunvalley, Kyalami, Johannesburg. The Centre is a non-racial facility that provides both residential and day care services to our beneficiaries.

Social Links

Find us

69 Rose Road
Kyalami, Midrand
South Africa