BERGSIG PERMACULTURE FARM FOR SALE

A stunning 224 hectare off-grid regenerative farm, situated just outside the beautiful town of Ladismith in the Klein Karoo. Plenty of fresh mountain water from springs, dams and boreholes, hectares of good quality production lands, some of which is currently growing Stone Fruits, awesome infrastructures such as lareg pack shed, barns, cottages and two houses, one of which is a restored Georgian double story. The farm is right at the foot of the Swartberg Mountain range, which allows for unlimited access to unspoilt nature. All this and more for 5.2 million.

Contact the Seller!

Call: (023) 111 0042
Email: kent01cooper@gmail.com

Cell: 0715954738 (whatsapp only)

Buildings

There are the following buildings on the farm.

  • Georgian main house with garage and cottage
  • Managers house with garage
  • Packshed/barn
  • 3 large storage sheds
  • 4 labourers cottages which need some restoring, however their main structure is fine.

Water

The farm is blessed with large amounts of high quality water and is currently registered for 160 million liters of water usage per year. There are 3 large earth dams, boreholes and a crystal spring flowing out from the mountains. Follow the link to see the different sources and storage systems.

 

land

The farm has 12 hectares of potential production land with 9 hectares served by irrigation delivery lines from the different farm water sources. 

The top 3rd of the farm is the traditional production area of cultivated lands, agricultural infrastructures and buildings while the lower and larger area is the wilderness area of the farm and home to a wide range of wildlife and rare plant species.

 

 

FARM DESCRIPTION

Bergsig Farm is in the process of going through a transition from a mainstream industrial agriculture system into a self-reliant, off-grid regenerative farm using permaculture (follow link here for description) as the design tool… Follow the links below for definitions of the above. 

The farm has been in process towards this goal for over 5 years now with no agricultural chemicals applied on the land since 2012. We have started regenerative water harvesting earthworks in the form of swales to prevent erosion and build up ground water below the production areas by catching, spreading and sinking the huge amounts of water that run-off the ridges whenever it rains hard. Instead of this water causing erosion and washing away infrastructure it is passively spread and infiltrated into the soil, which is the best place for water to be stored in an arid environment. 

We have been removing old dysfunctional infrastructure and have begun the process of installing more sustainable and dynamic infrastructures that will enable the farm to produce all the resources it needs to sustain a highly productive agricultural operation, independent from the high cost inputs (fertilisers, seed, herbicides, pesticides, Eskom power, etc). 

We have restored a classic Georgian house, which is the main farmhouse into a completely off-grid home with its own solar electricity supply, solar hot water generation, rain water harvesting, compost toilet and more to enable a truly grid free lifestyle that is high in quality and low in cost. 

This farm is a true wonder of the region, having come through a major veld fire without too much infrastructure damage and is one of the few farms in the area to have a sustainable supply of high quality water through the worst drought in recorded history. 

This is the ideal farm to build a self-reliant and sustainable lifestyle that has huge productive potential waiting to be unleased through good land stewardship and a regenerative approach to the land. That farm has all the basic infrastructures to support a high productivity, diverse, integrated and organic approach to farming and its high time we farmers took a more responsible and ethical approach to landuse.

Ladismith is 5km down an excellent gravel road that is very quiet, enabling easy access without the hassle of a busy thoroughfare.

 

 

THE LAND

The farm is 224 hectares large, bordering on the Swartberg to the north which is under the custodianship of Cape Nature Conservation, running down into a beautiful wild valley that meanders through fynbos and renosterveld down to our neighbours who are practicing permaculture and land restoration giving the farm a progressive and dynamic local context.

The top 3rd of the farm is the traditional production area of cultivated lands, agricultural infrastructures and buildings while the lower and larger area is the wilderness area of the farm and home to a wide range of wildlife and rare plant species.

The farm was previously focused on soft fruit production in the form of Plums, Peaches and Apricots, of which 2 hectares of Apricots is still under production and irrigation while the remaining 6 hectares of trees are in the process of being removed, yet most remain productive. Monoculture systems are not regenerative and result in the destruction of biodiversity, the water and mineral cycles on the land and require huge amounts of external inputs and management, bringing running costs to unaccepatle levels. By retrofitting the farm into a regenerative and ecosystemic system of production we heal the land, create a wide diversity of products and production systems coming off the land to support the farm economy and self-reliance and at the same time we use the production systems to regenerate the ecosystem processes on the farm and restore nature. To find out more about how we see this working on Bergsig and a look into the potentials we envisage follow this link.

The farm has 12 hectares of potential production land with 9 hectares served by irrigation delivery lines from the different farm water sources.

FARM WATER INFRASTRUCTURE

Water availability is the most important aspect of any farm or land-use system. Bergsig Permaculture Farm is perfectly situated to enable accesst to large amounts of fresh water from multiple sources. The water reserve of the farm is immense given that it sits right at the foot of the mountains ensuring a large reserve of high quality groundwater that feed boreholes, as well as providing an abundance of surface water in the form of natural springs, streams, and high volumes of surface run-off, which we are harvesting in a developing infrastructure of swales. The farm has survived the worst drought in recorded history, and while farms around it and in the region have collapsed due to running out water, Bergsig has had a plentiful and sustainable supply, so much so that the boreholes and dams have not been used at all. It is this sustainable supply of water that gives the farm so much potential as it can sustain a wide range of production systems offering any farmer resiliance through drought and enabeling massive amount of catchment and storage during wet years. This aspect alone make the farm an extremely wise buy.

Main Farm Dam

This large earth dam holds the majority of the farm’s surface water captured from the mountain stream running through the property. The dam is very deep, surrounded by wetlands full of water fowl, is loaded with bass. The dam holds in the region of 40 million liters of water and has never emptied. It is protected by a silt dam above it, ensuring that it does not silt up over time. The silt dam itself holds about 5 million liters of water. This dam stores more water than the farm can use in a irrigation season opening up the opportunity to bring land into production below it.

 

Lower Farm Dam

This smaller however substantial earth dam is situated below and recieves overflow from the main dam. This dam is ideal for irrigation into the lower parts of the farm or is suited to development into a dynamic aquaculture system, given its sheltered position in a valley pinchpoint, making it private and secluded. The dam holds in the region of 15 million liters of water.

Top Farm Dam

This small dam sits right above the production areas of the farm, enabeling gravity fed irrigation to lands below it. It recieves its water from overflow from the spring system on the farm and holds in the region of 5 million liters of crystal clear water. This is a lovely dam to swim in given its proximity to the homestead systems.

Concrete Resivour

This 500 000 liter concrete tank sits above all the production systems of the farm and recieves the main volume of water from the spring in the mountains. The resivour is deep and wide with outstanding views over the region, making it the perfect summer time recreation swimming space. The water from here flows into all farm irrigation distribution systems. The water from this tank overflows into the small dam below it.

Spring

The main spring on the farm starts in a small valley high above the farm and feeds a constant supply of high quality water down to the concrete resivour and to all the dwellings on the property. On average the spring delivers between 5000 to 10 000 liters an hour, depending on the season and rainfall. Even during the harshest of droughts the water flow never fell below 3000 Litres an hour. This spring overflows in winter and fills the dams on the farm and because it is so high above the farm lands it provides an ideal oppertunity for hydro power.

Groundwater

 

The groundwater reserve of a farm is the most important reserve of water as that is where the vast majority of available water lies. Surface water is a fraction of what is sitting below the surface and a good farm design focuses on infiltrating surface water into the earth where it can be saftely stored for later use by trees and extracted via boreholes. The farm is progressively been put under a infrastructure of Swales that infiltrate any water running along the surface of the soil in heavy rains. These earthworks slow, spread and sink water into the earth to build the water table. The farm has 1 very good borehole in use and 3 others that could be utilised if needed. Fortunately because there is so much water under the Swartberg and that water is sitting in Sandstone breaks and aquifers, the farm litrally has an endless source of high quality water.

HOMES & FARM BUILDINGS

 

Bergsig has two main dwellings, three labourers cottages, and numerous farm buildings enabeling a wide range of activities and processes. The labourers cottages need some work and some of the storage buildings some TLC, however the packshed, and houses are in great condition, with the Georgian main house recently restored. The range of buildings can be turned into functions such as animal processing, barn, distillery, packshed, cold room, a diversity of processing systems to raise value on product flows coming of the farm. There are perfect areas for drying, cold storage, as well as supporting social activities such as gatherings, training and education, tourisim, edu-tourisim, even renting, etc… The possibilites are endless…

RESTORED GEORGIAN HOUSE

The original farmhouse of cape georgian architectural style has been lovingly restord with the help of local master builder Yangoni Gurrola.

Nestled at the the foot of The Klein Swartberg, the house has a private view of the mountain at the back and an exspansive view of the farm and valley below from the large front stoep.

Some of the features include; original sash windows and glass in the front of the house, new saligna flooring throughout, searched for old treasures like the restored teak front doors and the unusual french doors with low handles in the cottage. Shutters were made from the original floor boards, the kitchen and bathrooms are fitted with custom-handcrafted units and hints of vibrant colour in mexican handbasins and tiles and exposed copper piping create interesting contrasts.

All plumbware is of the highest quality giving durability as well as complimenting the style of the house.  Only natural paints, varnishes and oils were used.

The house boasts:

Downstairs: A Large en-suite bedroom with a Victorian and Albert bath and a separate shower, a second bedroom with double doors leading out toward the mountains, a front living area flowing into the kitchen that leads onto a central courtyard. The back living area serves as a delightful winter sunroom with views onto the mountain and double doors opening to the back. There is also a second bathroom with shower and adjacent eco dry composting toilet. A central ” cool” room is perfect fora  hot klein karoo summer afternoon retreat and also accesses the loft area with a custom handcrafted wooden staircase.

Upstairs is divided into two exspansive sections offering various work, studio or additional bedroom and living arrangements.

The house is set up to be totally off grid with 3 solar hot water systems serving the house and cottage, solar electric power  and gas for cooking and hot water back-up.

The house is complimented with an adjacent one bedroom cottage. The bedroom is en-suite with a shower and double french doors lead out from both bedroom and open plan living area.

What is an eco dry composting toilet? It is a toilet that does not use any water nor create any waste and is not dug into the earth. It creates usable compost. It operates with a 2 bin system. Only one side/ toilet is used at a time. When it is full it is closed and the decomposition to compost is completed in about 6 months. It is then removed and placed through worm farms to create a beautiful compost. The second bin is used while the first is closed and each bin can take 2 years to fill up. The toilet is designed to service the cottage through the accessible side door. It is currently designed as a squat toilet , which is a healthier position to use. It can be modified to a seated toilet. The system can also be paired with a portable composting toilet system, thus allowing toilets in the other bathrooms. This system uses a comode and bucket as became popular in Cape Town during the water restrictions.

MANAGERS HOUSE

Perched at the top of the farm, this home has amazing views out over the valley, with the Swartberg mountains rolling off into the distance, makes a perfect 2nd dwelling on the farm. It is situated far enough from the main house to enable both homes privacy from each and its situation alongside the main farm processing and storage infrastructures make it an ideal managers house, from which an eye can be kept on all activities.

The house has 3 bedrooms, a large kitchen dining area, a spaceous lounge, 2 bathrooms, a scullery as well as a cellar and office. It has wooden floors, is solar powered and is surrounded by a fenced in garden. Behind the house is a garage and workshop complex that provides space for storage or even conversion into a cottage.

FARM BUILDINGS

Bergsig has a range of agricultural processing and storage buildings. The farm also has 4 labourers cottages that are structurally sound and need a bit of TLC. The farm has been running off the grid since 2013, however the ESKOM infrastructure is still in place and can be reconnected, however unadvisable that is.

The main packshed has a coldroom, which currently is being used as a animal processing space, while the old dairy and barn are great storage areas but can also be retrofitted into functions such as distillery, accomadation, confrenece facilities, or other agriculturally related functions. The buildings are all structurally sound but need some work on the detail end of things. There is a large barn standing on its own which can be converted to stables, backpackers, a house, your choice.

VISION FOR THE FARM

 

It is worth looking into the potentials Bergsig Farm holds from a Regenerative perspective. As the farm is currently under transition from a monoculture, mainstream agribusiness model into a Regenerative System using Permaculture Design as the tool, we will outline the basics of the idea we have for the farm. If you are not aware of what permaculture entails please follow the link here and in regard to Regenerative Farming here.

There are 2 models for the farm, one a community based model involving 6 households living on the farm on 6 sites within the main farm with a core area of Commons, constituting shared infrastructures and resources.  These sites function as micro-farms within the greater whole of the farm and exist to synergise with the landscape challenges and potentials in a manner that feeds into and is integrated into a wider farm design and system.

The other model is a single family farm with a wide range of land and people based systems and activities in place, which synergise into a whole design that is self-regulating, providing the core resources that farm needs to function. Because Bergsig is so diverse in landform, with a distinct upper region where the old school farming use to occur and the lower region which is wild, undeveloped with old feilds following the river course down the valley, it offers an ideal context for developing a small community model. Small community systems are really viable as getting permission for up to 7 dwellings on the farm without a zoning change.

A 7 family community is small enough to operate without the endless complications and “politics” of larger groupings, offers a good option for collective investment in infrasttructures, tools and marketing without putting pressure on individuals. Risks are shared and oppertunities can really be maximised in a manner that single family farms cannot achieve.

BASIC ECOSYSTEMIC PRODUCTION SYSTEMS

 

We are busy putting swales (see what swales below) across the whole farm. These will turn the farm into a gaint sponge, harvesting, spreading and sinking surface run-off from rainfall into the ground. This builds a vast resivour of water in the soil beneath the swales and between them, which prevent soil eroson and provide a sustainable source of water to wick up and support tree based production systems (food forests) along the swales, with pasture and cropping in the rows between them.

The design picture here shows the basic pattern and structure of contour based regernerative systems and conceptually Vegetable production, medicinal gardens, a farm support nursery located around the dwellings where they can be properly managed, observed and interacted with daily due to their need for high management inputs. As one moves out and away from the homesteads the production systems become more perennial based with fruit, nut and fodder trees grown along the swale mounds. Stone fruits, Pome Fruits, Figs, Citrus, Almonds, Pecans, Pistacios, Dates are all appropriate for this context.

Between the swales main cropping of medicinals, bio-oils (Jojoba), fibre such as Hemp, staple vegetables (grains, field beans, pumpkins, etc) are grown, with follow up by animal tractor systems in mobile electric fencing to build soil fertility and eliminate the need for soil additives.

Lower down in the system production systems become more hardy and self-managing. Swale systems are planted to hardy production trees such as Olive, timber in the form of firewood, long-term structural timbers, short-term structural timbers, Fodder trees such as Tagasaste, Carob, Mulberry…  Between the swales lucerne, grass pasture or natural veld that is mob grazed by cattle and sheep in mobile electric units.

PEOPLE ORIENTATED ACTIVITIES

Bergsig offers a wide diversity of options regarding people orientated economic processes. The range of buildings and houses on the property can be retrofitted and used for some of the following activities.

The Restored Georgian house was intended as a retreat guesthouse for regenerative living events, workshops and gatherings. The building offers a range of accomadation options in comfort and style. The building, given its location on the road is also ideal for a roadside restaurant and shop and can also function as a conventional B&B/guesthouse.

The managers house could function as a space to rent out as there is a huge demand for rented accommodation in the area and given that town is just a few km down the road makes it ideal. This building could also be made into a comfortable backpackers.

The labourers cottages, with restoration are ideal accomadation units or could host students, interns or volunteers should self-reliance, regenerative living educational activities be developed on the farm.

The old barn and storage sheds can be retro fitted into a confrenece center, workshop spaces or a classroom. There are many options that the infrastructures and environment lend themselves to and the size and diversity of the farm, especially if it is developed as a permaculture farm, makes it ideal for permaculture workshops, small gatherings, nature based educational events, workshops. As a guest farm with its large dams, beautiful scenery and wild unspoiled tracts of land provides people with not only plenty of on-site activities but also the proximity to the Swartberg mountains offers amazing hicking, exploring and cycling activities. The choice is yours and imagination is the only limit.

 

 

Swales

 

A permaculture swale is a shallow trench dug along the land’s contour, with a berm on the downhill side created with soil from the trench. All points along a contour line are exactly the same height above sea level.

Therefore, a trench along the contour captures surface run-off from roads, and slopes above the swales in the landscape, slowing and spreading it across the contour line. This action reduces erosion retaining and sinking the captured water into the soil below the swale contour. This creates a sponge under and below the swale and over time the amount of water infiltrated into the ground far exceeds that used by plant systems planted along the swale. The effect is to build the ground water table down slope, recharging passively springs and streams downslope, mitigate flooding and soil erosion.

Once swales have been installed they will restore the mineral and water cycle on the site. The swale mounds and below them, along the swale length, are planted to tree based systems, namely food forests and mixed tree strips that can, once mature, put their roots down into the water table under the swale, drastically if not totally negating the need for irrigation. Over time the trees roots grow really deep, rather than flat, which is the case with surface irrigation, making them all the more resilient and hardy.

The cultivation pattern therefore is belts of mixed production trees in guilds on and just below the swales, grown as contour forests with open strips of around 25m wide between swales which provide a well hydrated, nutrient dense (trickle down of nutrient from tree belts) and sheltered space for cropping, pasture or veld. These inter-swale strips are subsoiled on contour to create a sponge effect that spreads any water falling on them along contour and infiltrates it, building soil health and creating deep topsoils, an ideal environment for abundant production. Such systems are regenerative in the sense that they restore ecosystem function in the areas they cover, accumulate nutrients, water and mulch availability creating a resilient production system that keeps improving indefinitely and supports a large diversity of production elements. Such farms eventually become so profitable as the input costs of running them become less and less over time as the core drivers of production are farm produced and secure.

 

 

The Regenerative Society

The term Sustainability is not relevant to permaculture. Sustainability implies that systems sustain rather than evolve. Permaculture is Regenerative which implies evolution and growth. Regenerative systems restore and evolve social, economic and ecological processes and enable humans to enter a Co-evolutionary dynamic with nature. By applying permaculture design into a context along with other appropriate holistic tools such as Keyline Design and Holistic Management we can develop a land-use system that restore and regenerates natural ecosystem processes and human culture to higher levels of effectiveness than before human action began degenerating them. Thus the process of developing human society becomes the restoration vector rather than the destructive one. 

Natural systems are not static, they are constantly evolving into higher levels of complexity and stability and it is this natural process of succession that permaculture design enhances towards generating human life support systems that constantly grow and evolve into higher levels of complexity, stability and abundance. Permaculture design processes mimic natural processes so a permaculture designed civilisation functions as a vast ecosystem that is designed in favour of humanity and provides the context for all life on earth to thrive. Thus we introduce a new term that sits on top of sustainability and is a more effective reflection of what permaculture systems enable… Thrivability.

Thus with effective application of permaculture Principles, Ethics and Design Processes we can enable co-evolution between people and nature, that generates the context & resources to support regeneration in all aspects of society (ecosystemic order)

FREE PERMACULTURE DESIGN COURSE

If you do not have much experience and knowledge in permaculture, do not fret, we offer the buyer a free Permaculture Design Course by Love Green Permaculture run at Oudeberg Permaculture Farm in Montagu. This will set you up on your permaculture journey and give you the confidence, skills and tools to design and start implementing your dream permaculture system at Bergsig Farm. This is a life changing experience and opens the door to practical regenerative living. To learn more about the Permaculture Design Course follow the link below.

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