Learn about sustainable gardening and help renovate the house my grandparents built in Thabazimbi, South Africa



 Min stay requested: at least 1 month



  • Description


    !Looking for Volunteers from NOVEMBER 2023 until JUNE 2024!

    Hi. We're Scott and Kristyna and for the greater part of the year we stay here, deep in the South African bush on the farm my grandparents started some eighty years ago. If you love diverse nature, peace and quiet and want to experience a self sufficient type of lifestyle then read on because my project may interest you. (For a few months of the year I/we stay In UK/Czech Republic).

    I studied ecology at degree level and have a very wide knowledge of all subjects nature based and am passionate about growing vegetables/fruit and looking after the soil. Kristyna is a civil engineer by trade but at the moment is focusing her energy on a more holistic lifestyle and has recently started a podcast covering her life experiences.

    Our overall vision is to renovate the existing buildings which include the main house, other accommodation, the original workshop and other outbuildings, as well as becoming as self sufficient as possible, by growing a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, berry and nut trees, harvesting enough rain water for domestic and gardening needs and installing solar power. We're hoping over the coming season we can fence the garden and then start planting fruit trees come the autumn/winter.

    The house is situated in a magical spot where after spending a few days, it’s easy to forget about the outside world thanks to the silence and abundance of nature. Night time brings an incredible star rich sky, or when the moon is full, a brightness of scene we've rarely witnessed elsewhere.

    The bushveld surrounding the garden is incredibly biodiverse and it's not unusual to have up to 40 or 50 antelope of various species grazing in the garden. Reptiles also abound, and its likely to see some of the famous African snakes such as the rock python, black mamba, spitting cobra and puff adder. Butterflies and insects are extremely numerous and everyday, without fail, something new can be spotted.

    Where we live is very peaceful and serene and I believe guests will benefit from immersion in this environment. People who are looking for this environment will thrive here, but others who are looking for a party place with music and alcohol might prefer to look elsewhere. This is a place to reflect, grow and appreciate nature. Its a place to be away from the modern world, to improve yourself and share experience.
    The list of jobs is long and diverse and there is something to suit most people and we can mix and match jobs depending on volunteers interests/skill levels.

    From November 2023 we will be working on:

    Building a fence around the garden
    Fixing the paths around the house (removal of paving and re-laying with cement pointing)
    Flooring inside the house, levelling with concrete screed
    Reconstruction of the main house bathroom + wall building
    Digging soakaways for bathroom
    New electrical installations in the house
    Ceiling boards replacement
    Painting the house roof
    General painting
    Renovation of stone walls
    General garden maintenance

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Art Projects
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Farmstay help
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance
    Help with Computers/ Internet
  • UN sustainability goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainability goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    There is a vast amount to learn during a stay with me on the farm. I have a very detailed knowledge of the fauna and flora, with a specialist knowledge of butterflies and am very happy to share and teach this to guests. I also would love to share my lifetime's knowledge of gardening/horticulture/composting/permaculture with guests and hopefully inspire people to have a go at their own food gardens.

    Where we live is very peaceful and serene and I believe guests will benefit from immersion in this environment. People who are looking for this environment will thrive here, but others who are looking for a party place with music and alcohol might prefer to look elsewhere. This is a place to reflect, grow and appreciate nature. Its a place to be away from the modern world, to improve yourself and share experiences.

    Guests will also have the chance to meet some of the locals and possibly some of my family (depending when they visit). The area is made up of game farms and for those who wish, can get involved a little with this in their spare time and learn about the industry.
    Personally I'm not into hunting but being an ecologist I have a good rounded knowledge on the subject and also of other activities in the area. One of my neighbours runs an animal rehabilitation centre and there might be a chance to visit.

  • Help


    I spent the early part of 2020 painting the house and other buildings and then around a month building a large vegetable patch which quickly started supplying quality organic produce. When we arrive, usually in November the first job is to get the veg patch up and running which takes about a week, and then after we can start focusing on other jobs.

    The next larger jobs we plan to tackle are fencing the entire garden area, extending the vegetable growing area, preparing to plant fruit trees and then renovations to the accommodation and main house.

    The list of jobs is long and diverse and there is something to suit most people and we can mix and match jobs depending on volunteers interests/skill levels. To complete all this we would love to have some willing volunteers to help with the work (and also to exchange knowledge and ideas) because without help the project seems a little daunting!

    Along with the house and garden, in the coming years I also would like to complete some rehabilitation work around the farm. In years past some parts were overgrazed by the cattle and these areas need a helping hand in the right direction -some anti erosion work and water management to allow the grasses and vegetation to return. We may also occasionally do some other work outside the house and garden area which might include things like road renovations and cleaning out earth dams.

    We will happily consider any volunteers who have the right attitude (will do their best, happy, interested, keen) and would specially appreciate people with specific skills who can help with jobs such as tiling/plumbing/carpentry/electrics/mechanics.... we have some experience in these areas but could do with learning a lot more!! In return we have a lot to teach about the gardening, nature, yoga and meditation.

    And I would also really appreciate experts in any nature related disciplines to contact me. A long term plan is to compile a detailed list of species residing on the farm. Already trees, birds and butterflies have been recorded but there is so much more to explore. Its such a biodiverse area that most naturalists will be in heaven. I've studied the butterflies in the area for thirty years and at the moment I am trying to photograph them with the aim to compile a booklet. Help with this would be great, but I'm afraid it won't fall under work time!!

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    Czech: Fluent
    English: Fluent
    Spanish: Beginner
    French: Beginner

    This host offers a language exchange
    I'm happy to host volunteers who are not fluent in English

  • Accommodation


    There is a cottage with two rooms and a shared bathroom. Each room has two beds so can suit a single person or couple. Also there is a stand alone room and one more bedroom in the main house. Camping can also be an option - plenty of space for this (but you have to be a little brave because of the night noises!!!). There is plenty of parking for camper vans.

    I am a vegetarian but will very occasionally eat meat, perhaps once a month on the BBQ/Braai. Generally I eat large salads, veg/lentil curries and often a large fruit salad in the morning, but often I will skip breakfast and have a first meal at lunch. Kristyna is an omnivore and a particularly good cook so will probably be rustling up some tasty meals from time to time..

    We try and stick to a very healthy and simple diet and we're very happy for guests to join us in this. We realise though, that a person's diet is very important to their day to day life and so are happy to consider any requests for food, as long as it fits into the budget.

    Because of the distance, we pay a visit to the local town once a week, or sometimes once every two weeks. This is not set in stone and shopping trips also depend on other factors such as building materials needed etc. So please bear this in mind!! if you have run out of your favourite chocolate then there might be a considerable wait before stock can be replenished.

    We will provide volunteers with cereals, bread, eggs, fruit and spreads for breakfast, and for other meals there will be dry staple ingredients such as rice, pasta, flour and a variety of vegetables which are available from the local shop. We will be prepared to buy a weekly allowance of meat but will not spend out on expensive steaks and other cuts because my budget does not stretch that far. Other similarly expensive foods such as blue cheese etc will not be on the list either, but I will buy cheddar for example..

    For more expensive items you can't live without, we are happy for you to purchase and cook. For overall cohesion of living we're not encouraging hardcore carnivores to volunteer at our place. And this brings me on to Alcohol. I don't drink much, perhaps a beer or two a month and sometimes less and Kristyna doesn't drink at all. We would appreciate if people could respect this and keep drinking to a minimum. A couple of drinks in the evening is fine and perhaps a few at the weekend. And we expect anyone who wants to drink to buy their own alcohol and also to clear the bottles/cans away before bed.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    The nearest towns to my place are Thabazimbi or Northam. Reach either of these when I'm there for shopping and you can jump in with me to get a lift home. If I have to make a special trip to pick you up, then I will ask you to cover petrol because it's a two and a half hour round trip. At the moment I won't personally collect volunteers from the airport because this is a day written off for me which I would prefer not to loose.

    Also at the moment we only have a Toyota Hilux pickup truck which seats three, so for this reason not everyone may be able to go to town

    From Johannesburg we have a very reliable, knowledgeable and friendly taxi driver who will pick you up and drop you either at the farm or close by where I can meet you.

    Near the farm there are some interesting places to visit. But to be completely honest we haven't ever explored the local area much because simply we are extremely content on the farm - There are national parks close by and we do visit Marakele national park regularly (1.5hr drive).

    The Farm is very big and there is unlimited walking, camping and photography potential.


    Where we live is a very wild place and is not for everyone. In the past many guests who 'believe' they love wild places find out quickly its not quite what they expect so I feel we must highlight this aspect. If on the other hand you enjoy the wild and everything which comes with it, then you will probably love my place.

    The house house does need modernising - the kitchen is fine but not five star. There are two fridges, wood stove, gas stove and freezers. Accommodation is clean and freshly painted. At the moment there is only one fully functioning bathroom but there is another outside toilet, so some sharing will be necessary.

    Its worth bearing in mind at this point that the house is in the middle of the bush and the inhabitants of the surrounds don't understand there is an invisible line between where they live and where we live. Expect to have lots of insects and some frogs, toads and snakes entering the buildings. Its important to keep doors closed if this might bother you. There are poisonous snakes around and it is important to be aware of this but not alarmed. Its rare to see one in the house and anyway if you do visit I will explain further about precautions etc.

    At the moment all the water for the garden and domestic purposes comes from a borehole which needs electricity to pump it out. Because of this, its important to be aware and careful with water usage. Short showers, and taps definitely not left running. Same goes for electricity because its pretty pricey and I don't have solar yet. Lights off when you aren't in the room. The shower is heated by a 'geyser' and this uses a lot of electricity and so we will turn this on morning and evening. Because the water tank is small if everyone wants a hot shower we need to each keep it short.

    We expect volunteers to keep their rooms and bathrooms tidy at all times. This 'tidying' time will not fall under your 5 hours of work time per day. It is your personal responsibility and because we have to share some areas such as the bathroom/kitchen everything needs to be kept clean to avoid any unnecessary conflict. Another point to note here is if you leave your clothes on your bedroom floor, then you may discover the hard way that some insect or other has taken up residence in your trouser leg.

    Usually we will start work at 8am or earlier if the day is hot so we expect volunteers to have had their breakfast and tidied the kitchen before that. I really struggle with tardiness and expect people to be on time. If the day is too hot we may break work time into two slots - Morning and late afternoon.

    The farm is very quiet! For a lot of people, staying in this environment will be a big adjustment, so please consider this carefully before applying. If you get bored easily and get your kicks from shopping and hanging out in restaurants then this might not be the place for you.

    INTERNET: This might be the most important section for a lot of people so read it very carefully and consider what you have read. At the house WE DO NOT have any internet at the moment. This means you will not be able to do anything on your phone that needs connection. I know these days many people suffer phone addictions, so if this is a real concern for you then think carefully!!. If on the other hand a free digital detox is appealing then this might be a very attractive place to stay. Please consider this point because I can't bare listening to people complain that there is no connectivity. I will also ask people not to post photos of my place on social media. I am happy if guests send photos directly to friends and family but please not in the wider sphere. This is a very special place for us and for various reasons we don't feel happy with pictures of my home floating around in cyber space probably with intention to simply generate a few 'likes'. If you are a blogger/social media guru/addict then please talk to us first about this.

    There is however internet a fairly short walk away - a little way up a mountainside (4g usually, but no guarantee). This is where we go when I need to make a call or sort something basic out on the net.

    Please read this last paragraph carefully: our house and garden are very important to us because of my family history and also because of the general setting and uniqueness of the situation. We have travelled widely and its very difficult to find a spot such as this - one which is quiet, clean and has a good energy. We really love the opportunity given by this site to share this with like-minded and respectful people because there is a vast amount we can all gain from the experience. Please read our whole profile carefully and take the time to try and understand the sort of people we are. My friends describe me as very laid back and calm which I guess is a good starting point to my character - Kristyna is similar and likes to be surrounded by positive energy. I do not suffer fools lightly and I will not tolerate anyone upsetting the equilibrium of our environment. If you are keen to do your best, are respectful, thoughtful and are willing to learn we are very happy to share our time and place with you. We also really look forward to learning from you and making new friends along the way.

    If you are interested to come and stay we will ask you to tell me a little more about yourself (if your profile isn't very detailed) so we can judge if we will 'fit'. Because we will all be living in close proximity, I think it is very important to get a good feeling for each other before, so there is no bad vibes later on. We will also ask people to consider a minimum of 1 month stay because of logistics/distances/induction time etc.

    Scott and Kristyna

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    Vans are welcome but please bare in mind there is 30km of rough dirt road to reach my place.

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    Please contact me and discuss first if you have a pet

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Host ref number: 638895315945

Feedback (6)


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