Kuhestan Organic Farm is tucked into the edge of the Woodbush Forest, the second-largest Afromontane indigenous forest in the country. Arising deep within the heart of these forests, pure waters gurgle their soothing lullabies as they mingle with the scent of wild grasses and meander down to the valleys below. Here, ancient trees host Samango monkeys and special birds like the Cape Parrot, Black-fronted BushShrike and Knysna Turaco as well as butterflies that visit the farm to the delight of the owners and guests alike. Kuhestan boasts one of the most beautiful gardens on ‘The Mountain’, open to the public as a tourist attraction, as well as two studio-style, self-catering guest cottages; the charming stand-alone chalet and a two-bedroom cottage with the most amazing view of the Wolkberg Mountains. Each tastefully-furnished unit with a fully-equipped, quality kitchen and wood-burning fireplace is set in the beautiful gardens so Kuhestan is a popular choice for nature-enthusiasts and birders.
Owner, Shahrzad Hone recalls how it all happened saying, ‘In 1990 I was introduced to the Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail. It became my annual pilgrimage but after each hike, I would reluctantly return to Johannesburg, wishing I could have brought my bed to sleep in the forest forever. We moved to Phalaborwa Mine in 2000 and in 2001 bought Kuhestan, not realising at the time that the farm is only 2km from the Woodbush hut, one of the three huts where we would overnight during the hike.’ She says that ‘being in Magoebaskloof is like being on a life-holiday – of course there is work involved, but the fresh air, clean water, serene scenery, beautiful forests and mountains make it all worthwhile. This is a place where everything grows - from herbs to friendships in abundance.’
Previous health issues led Shahrzad and her husband, Brett to do research into the impact of lifestyle on one’s mental and physical wellbeing, remembering their childhood days when simple and wholesome were the only way of life. From the onset, they decided to treat the farm as they would like to be treated by it – organic practices, paying respect to all forms of life and sharing the energy of the space with guests ‘to bring joy to the heart of everyone that visits.’ Shahrzad says, ‘it all formed a complete circle, we absolutely love nature and respect it with our utmost being. Avocado trees were planted on the farm when it was purchased in 2001 and other organic fruit, seasonal vegetables and herbs are also grown. Shahrzad has taken great satisfaction in developing the Kuhestan farm’s brand of healthy bottled goodies. Figs, plums, quinces and berries are used to make delicious jams and pickles, while limes are transformed into marmalade, and, for the savoury palate, pickled eggplants and piquant pepper relishes are delicious.
Shahrzad explains how the gardens have been in the making since 2001 and are being expanded further into the avo orchard, recalling how, ‘since I was a child, I followed my mom into the beautiful garden she had created with roses and geraniums on our fruit orchard in Iran and I am still walking the same path with moisture-loving plants instead of geraniums and hollyhocks. 22 years is not that long in some estimation, but that is the length of time we have been honoured with the custodianship of this little piece of heaven on earth. It is my absolute joy to tend to the garden with our dedicated staff who love plants as much as we do. Our fruit trees and the vegetable garden fresh produce is always in abundance and we bottle surplus after we have gifted our guests and friends. Nothing goes to waste on Kuhestan.’
Since June 2005, guests to Kuhestan have enjoyed many of the things which are in short supply in the cities. From the onset, Shahrzad decided not to have TV in their rooms, ‘so that guests can immerse themselves in the healing power of nature and spend time with their travel companion.’ Nature loving families can enjoy forest hikes, identifying creatures like grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, frogs and, best of all, chameleons which seem to have disappeared from cityscapes. ‘We believe that nature calls those who need to experience it, says Shahrzad, ‘and although we are on quite a few tourism platforms, we don’t actively seek to get to maximum capacity because we would rather have fewer guests who really enjoy their stay and the personal attention than have visitors back-to-back. Our differentiating factor is that we aspire to excellence in everything we do and I guess that is why we have so many repeat guests, some of whom have become very good friends.’
Shahrzad’s idea is for Kuhestan to become an inspiration and a model to all nature lovers who would like to create their piece of heaven on earth. She says, ‘we can create our dream wherever we are, we just need to manifest it - thoughts and seeds from this farm have travelled far and wide. Pay us a visit, experience Persian hospitality, breath-in fresh mountain air and let your soul and body refresh, rejuvenate and be up-lifted by nature.’
Connect with Kuhestan Farm Cottages on 082 903 7593 | 082 887 8029 | firstname.lastname@example.org www.kuhestan.co.za