This 2 000 ha farm has been in the Morton / Martin family since the 1850s. When we arrived by ox wagon and bought the farm from an Afrikaans family, there were no Zulu families living here as they had all been displaced by King Shaka’s reign and the resultant Mfecane. Over the years, 60 families moved onto the farm and have become our good friends and neighbours.
In the 1960s, when the Government was instituting forced removals of African residents off farms and onto remote, desolate pieces of land, our family opposed the eviction of the Black families from Sherwood in the Howick Magistrate’s Court… and won.
In the 1990s, when the rest of the Karkloof catchment area was being allocated timber rights, we decided that the preservation of our natural habitat was more important than the prospect of making money from monoculture forestry. We had seen that it has not only decimated the natural environment but had also dried up the entire catchment area. So we did not apply for timber permits that were readily available at the time and have tried to maintain and restore the natural ecosystems of this valley.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s (and in consultation with the 60 families living and working on the farm), we were one of the first farms to embark on a Land Reform project. We offered 660 ha of the farm to the Department of Land Affairs which was then given to the community of Egamalethu, elevating them from farm dweller to neighbour / land owner. Our relationship with those families remains very strong and mutually respectful.
Since 1994 we have not allowed any chemicals, fertilisers or pesticides on the farm and in 2008 we decided that, as the owners of Sherwood Farm, we would embark on a journey of restoring and preserving the natural environment of Sherwood. This was started with the construction of a place of reflection, prayer and meditation. And from that dream, the Cob House was born.