As we turned into The Old Mushroom Farm it started raining ever so lightly and a blanket of mist covered the property (exactly the weather I have come to expect and hope for when visiting the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal). Sandy was waiting for us and ushered us to The Apartment, our home for the night, and immediately lit the fire. The Apartment, an old mushroom tunnel, is one of the most unique stays I have experienced in some time. The tunnel has been transformed into a beautiful open plan space that sleeps four. The open plan kitchen and living area is equipped with everything you need. The Apartment also has its own private terraced courtyard with braai facilities, as well as your own grazing garden to use during your stay. Although we happily would have poured ourselves a glass of red wine and spent the afternoon in front of the fire, our curiosity got the better of us and we decided to go exploring.
Where community, collaboration and creativity thrives
Over the last three decades ex-mushroom farmer, architect and artist Nic Crooks has transformed what used to be growing tunnels into artisanal workspaces where artisans can showcase their craft and products. Nine growing tunnels have been transformed into unique spaces that house little shops with the most beautiful products. After spending some time browsing through Madame Butterfly, the Makers Market and Rock Paper Scissors for local, contemporary goods we found a seat infront of Blue Bird Coffee Roastery for one of the best Cortados I have had in a long time. Warming our hands on our coffee we watched Amelie explore the play area (yes it still was raining). On our way back to our apartment we popped into Big Slice Bakery to pick up our pre-ordered Potato and rosemary loaf and Challah. Matthew and his team send you their menu when you book your accommodation, you order your bread and pick it up when you arrive. After spending the rest of the afternoon lounging about in-front of the fireplace we sauntered down to The Spot Bistro for their amazing oven-baked pizzas. Stomachs full we spent the rest of the evening lounging about infront of the fire before crawling into our beds to fall asleep to the pitter-patter of the rain on the tunnel’s roof.
After a delicious breakfast at Home Slice Cafe (a must when visiting TOMF), we ventured out onto the property to do a little more exploring. We had not gone very far when we stumbled onto a beautiful Vegetable garden. The Old Mushroom Farm Community Garden is a non-profit, food-focused green space focused on vegetable farming, sustainable living, healthy lifestyle, and edible landscaping. The project aims at contributing to food security, serving communities in need in the Howick area and surrounds. Locals can join the gardening community by renting an allotment or volunteering in the garden. The income from the allotment rental goes to maintaining the garden and purchasing seeds for the garden. How amazing is this!
11 Karkloof is a rustic farm stay located in the beautiful KZN Midlands, only 6,5km from Howick.
Forming part of The Old Mushroom Farm is 11 Karkloof. The houses on the farm, that were once for staff, have been transformed into self-catering accommodation for urban escapees and outdoor enthusiasts. The five cottages are perfect for small family get-aways, while the The Round House and The Falls House are perfect for a group of friends. All the accommodation provides bedding and bath towels, open fireplaces and fully equipped kitchens. What makes 11 Karkloof special is their family-focus – children and socialized doggy-children are not only welcome, but are catered for.
It is not very often that I visit a place and everything about it just resonates with me. This was the case when staying at TOMF. From the simplistic and retro decor, to their passion for artisanal and local products. From the moment I stepped out of our car I felt at home. The Old Mushroom Farm is truly a special place, and a must visit then in the Karkloof area.
Trip paid in full by Enroutefoodie