“Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days; days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God.” - John Muir
Our story is one filled with God’s Provision and Grace. It is a long story, so here is the précised version!
Lowestoffe and Rooken Farms have been in the Evens family since 1905, and Neil is a 4th generation farmer. In 1991 Neil married Robyn Conroy, and so began a new season of adventure and change.
1994 saw us open our farms to holiday-makers, so they too could experience the privilege of our ‘office with a view’ lifestyle. It all began with Walnut Cottage, situated behind the main homestead on Lowestoffe Farm.
In 1997, Neil and Robyn attended a Holistic Management (HM) course, and soon realised that despite generations of livestock farming, we are actually soil and grass farmers – our livestock is simply a by-product of the grass we grow. What a paradigm shift! We embraced the HM approach to farming, based on the wisdom and knowledge of well-known Zimbabwean, Allan Savory and the Savory Institute. Globally, climate change and desertification are a real threat, and HM offers a solution for the depleting grasslands of the world. To learn more you can watch Allan Savory’s TED talk: “How to fight desertification and reverse climate change.”
Because of the innovative HM approach, we are now able to carry almost three times the government livestock carrying capacity on our farms. Our veld cover and the nutrient value of our grass have improved significantly, and in 2018 we embarked on the next chapter of our Holistic Management journey: herding our animals in virtual camps, using a permanent herder who lives in a mobile home.
In 2002, when we purchased Rockford Park and Woodhouselea Farms, we saw God’s mighty hand at work. There farms are a perfect fit with Rooken and Lowestoffe, and together the four adjoining farms form 5500 hectares of beautiful, diverse topography – on which to grow healthy, nutrient rich GRASS!
We run our cattle and sheep in large flerds (flock + herd) of approximately 300 cows and 1200 sheep. Anatolian dogs and Alpacas help guard and protect our sheep from predators.
We are farmers working together as good stewards of what our Heavenly Father has entrusted to our care. But we love people, and an important part of our vision is sharing the agroecology and ecotourism aspects of our business with all who come to Lowestoffe Country Lodge.
Our focus on self-catering allows our guests to plan their own schedule without marching to someone else’s drumbeat. This is primarily why Neil and Robyn embraced home education for their three children: Peta, Guy and Drew, followed by Cambridge certification. Our daughter, Peta, currently studies Design and Photography in Stellenbosch while Guy and Drew are finishing off their schooling at McKinlay Reid International School in George. Our hope is that they will all return to the farm one day, to continue building the family business and to increase the boundaries.
When the Pretorius family joined us in 2011 with their three daughters – Michal, Rachel and Hannah – it was another perfect fit: Holistic Management and home education being points of deep connection. They are now an integral part of our farm family, with Debra running the lodges with enthusiasm and attention to detail.
In 2013, the Savory Hub of South Africa was established on Rockford Park; run by Rolf Pretorius, with Neil as a Holistic Management trainer for regenerative farming courses held onsite at various times in the year.
We look forward to welcoming you to our farm and home – together with the sheep, cattle, Anatolian dogs, Alpacas, staff, Pretorius and Conroy Evens families and the six Irish Red Setters. We all contribute to making Lowestoffe Country Lodge a destination with a difference!