Lentelus farm is about as remote as one can get. The farm is tucked deep into the Bo-Kouga mountains, and is completely off the grid - with no power, landline, or even cell-phone reception. The farm is 20km from the nearest tarred road, and 30km from a local supply store.
Named “Dieptes van Ellende” (Afr. for “Depths of Despair”) on original title deeds, it is wonderful that essential oils have brought so much life and hope. Lentelus is in an extraordinary setting, with vast expanses of mountain providing the sweetest of water. The climate is harshly beautiful – long, cold and frosty winters with hot, dry summers and ferocious days. Rainfall is scant, with the average of 380mm per annum deeply threatened by climate change and prolonged droughts.
This has given rise to a hardy people, and those living in the Bo-Kouga know a thing or two about life. Our farm families are resilient and capable and have embraced the skills needed in the growing and distilling of essential oil plants. Jacolene (responsible for distillation and overall farm management), Miggel and Annie, Gino, and Elrico, are the core of this farm and its future. They run the farm and produce our oils with love and care.
The southern slopes of the Kouga mountains are clad in fynbos, the north-facing hills are transitional karoo and dotted with aloes. The streambeds are dense thickets harbouring kudu, bushpig and other wildlife. Baboons and giant tortoises thrive. These transitional zones are what makes the Bo-Kouga so exciting for essential oils.
The farm itself has very little arable land – tiny scattered fields that had been farmed to destruction even before the great flood of 1916. The restoration of these fields and regeneration of the land through the discovery and propagation of local and endemic essential oil plants has its challenges, but offers the greatest rewards imaginable – peace, harmony, and wonder.
Eriocephalus tenuipes in Tweerivier, Lentelus Bo-Kouga
Rockhaven, Groot Winterhoek Mountains
Rockhaven is a remote high altitude farm (750 metres a.s.l.) in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains of the Western Cape, on the edge of the Cederberg. It is reached after ascending the Dasklip Pass above the town of Porterville, about two hours drive from Cape Town.
This is a well-established farm growing a wide variety of essential oils, while also producing honey and olive oil. The climate is harsh Mediterranean, with hot dry summers and cold winters. Annual rainfall, mostly in winter, averages 600mm. Soils are sandy and acid. Supplementary irrigation comes from groundwater boreholes accessed via a solar pump. The decision by Andrew Brown and Jaap Moses to focus on essential oils has seen a conventional apple farm (originally called Sanddraai) transform into an organic haven amidst the rocks and wildlife of the Winterhoek.
They have purposefully chosen crops that are compatible with the surrounding environment, including the large troops of baboons, Rhebuck and Klipspringer, and abundant birdlife. The conversion to organic farming has brought with it a huge increase in wildlife, including predators such as leopards and caracal, while the energetic programme of alien tree removal has seen a return to pristine fynbos. Rockhaven is well known for its rock paintings (including access to the Galleon), its rock pools, clean air and wide open skies. Jaap and Andrew are happy to show guests around the farm and to explain the production of essential oils: the farm can be visited by arrangement to see essential oils being stilled.
For more on the farm, you can visit www.capemountainoils.co.za For information on accommodation offered on the farm visit www.cederberg-rockhaven.co.za