Eco practices, sustainability and responsible tourism play a huge part of the ethos of our lodge. We think this means growing our own food or as much as is possible. We think anything that brings you closer to self-sustained living is a good thing. Even the smaller things such as having your own chickens and a cow are positive attributes. Also its important to that our environment remains free of toxic chemicals. We put effort into using reclaimed materials and earth friendly products.
Organic vegetable garden and farm
We use our own organic vegetable garden. What we cant grow ourselves we source locally. We have our own chickens for eggs, cows for milk, make own cheese, butter and yogurt and bake our own bread.
To conserve water, Antbear harvests rain water and have separated house water from the garden water. The vegetable garden has efficient irrigation and uses the permaculture methods of mulching to maintain moisture in the soil. Water saving devices have been implemented like low-flow shower heads.
Alternative building methods
Antbear`s accommodation options are excellent examples of Eco-architecture. Straw bales, cob, rammed earth, sun dried bricks, mud and rocks have been used to build the lodge. Thatch for the roofs of the lodge have been harvested locally on the farm and the bulk of the building materials come from the farm too. This created the need for local labor resulting in a substantially lower impact on the environment. We are in the process of converting the infrastructure to get off the grid completely. We are doing this through a process of reducing energy consumption, installing solar heating for water with a backup using gas heating and converting led lighting.
Waste water and recycling
Only biodegradable products are used as waste water is collected into a reed bed filter which naturally extracts the phosphates and nitrates from the water, and in turn becomes compost. Ecoli is killed off through the suns UV and only then is the waste water returned to the ground. We have an active program of separating waste into compost, plastic, glass, metal and paper and are participate in a recycling program in Estcourt. Organic waste is fed to the pig and chickens or to the earthworms or for making compost.
We take our stewardship of the 229 hectare farm very seriously. We have been clearing the valley of invasive alien vegetation such as black wattle, hawthorn and American bramble and have planted hundreds of indigenous trees. The main reason for this is water conservation and erosion rehabilitation. This is an ongoing and continuous battle of cutting back and then repeating the process the following year. So far a 4ha area of the total of 10ha has been cleared to the point where grassland is re-established.
Animal anti cruelty
Antbear Lodge has a strict anti-cruelty policy that pervades all aspects of the business including from where animal products are purchased. Our animals are all cared for with respect and love. Attention is paid to feeding them well and we do not use animal by-products like chicken litter. We have gained a reputation for taking in injured and abandoned animals like orphaned lambs, donkeys from the Highveld Horse Rescue unit, we have given a home to an abused pig, refuge to a goat that was run over, and taken in dogs and cats that have been discarded. There are 2 horses that have been retired and now live here too.
Antbear Lodge believes that the education of young people holds the most promise for social and economic transformation in their community and South Africa. We have therefore sponsored the farm school library, built a class room, donated fencing materials for the school garden, built a school playground and set up basketball nets, and regularly supply stationery and school shoes. We support the Chrysalis Project which is a Non-Profit Organisation working in schools in the Giants Castle/ Kamberg area – if you are interested in more information or lending a hand, please visit chrysalis-project-za.org.