Why Verkykerskop

by Louis J Grobler

Back in 2000, a few Johannesburg friends started to invest in the Verkykerskop area. Currently, Matt Hoffman, Beth Hillary, and Chris Chameleon are the owner-members of Verkykerskop Tourism CC which, inter alia, owns most of the land in Verkykerskop Village. In 2004, Matt introduced me to the unique potential installed in the village and its surrounds, and I managed to persuade some friends to join in and acquire the land surrounding the village. Verkykerskop Nedersetting Ontwikkeling (Pty) Ltd. was established as development vehicle, with myself, Kobus Coetsee, Alf Raspi and Joe Vogel as shareholders. All of us formed a developers consortium with the Verkykerskop Boerevereniging, with the vision to preserve this beautiful historic village and to share it with like-minded people.

We thus welcome you to share in the village’s heritage and good old life you have been longing for. As more and more true South Africans trek back to their roots in search of this life and for other good reasons, the market has responded by offering these connoisseur investors an exciting array of opportunities, which we welcome. But the reason why you would choose Verkykerskop as your new family base for generations to come has something to do with becoming part of a warm farming community in a traditional farming district. Back to your roots. Your soil.

It is difficult to single out our greatest asset in comparison to those of many beautiful country places you could choose from, but we would venture to say it is the soul of the people, the character of the village and its sense of place. To this day it portrays the early 19th century Boere uitspanning plek it started out as. In addition to the historic police station, which was recently developed into a modern facility, existing historic buildings include the old “eenmanskooltjie” – that has been renovated into a cottage -, an old Edwardian farmhouse – that is currently operated as Afsluit Gastehuis -, the koperasie winkel, the general dealer – now housing Smiley Restaurant -, the old mill, and a few old houses that have been put to use as guest cottages and backpackers rooms. The auction kraals and adjacent “boeresaal” are the main social and commercial collocation of the community. Apart from our New Year dances, boeresports and fun rides on horseback, we have hosted shows with big name entertainers such as Valiant Swart, Ollie Viljoen, Frank Opperman, Karen Zoid, Parletones, Jannie du Toit, Shawn Else and Chris Chameleon.

What is the development concept? The existing settlement will form the nucleus of an extended tranquil country village, surrounded by the 850 ha working farm and conservation area. The village and outskirts will accommodate a range of sports facilities and outdoor activities, with the veld and natural vistas on the farm being conserved. Sustainable farming will continue and we have already established a Nguni herd and an Arabian stud. The village and estate theme is not bound to a particular brand such as golf, polo, game lodge or the like – instead, we are striving to facilitate the gradual development of a very livable place that is not alien, but that provides a range of lifestyle activities.

We at Verkykerskop have set ourselves the target of developing the majority of sites as 100% self- sufficient for its energy needs, and the remainder to generate up to 60% of their own energy from renewable sources. Our Green Energy specialists, in collaboration with the architects, have shown that their living and technology designs are achievable at acceptable levels of initial capital cost, while significantly reducing running costs.

With the golden thread being our proud Green Living philosophy and our motto of farm, play and live free, the Spatial Development Framework of the Phumelela Local Municipality was amended to make provision for a range of residential opportunities in terms of density, arrangement and style. Theses include village square, mixed-use apartments, dorp erven, rural hamlet cottages, larger freestyle stands and agricultural Burger erven. We have completed the urban, services and architectural planning process and the first phase of serviced stands will be offered in the near future.