Strawberry Hill Farm historically had a fully functional saw mill operation. The farm has since moved onto other endeavors and no longer focuses primarily on saw mill productivity. The farm is now shifting towards outdoor activity-orientated accommodation, along with putting large effort into the rehabilitation of its land to its former pristine natural condition. The farm is doing this by removing exotic invasive plant species and allowing the natural fynbos and forest biomes to naturally recover.
Many of the sawmill machines have been sold but a few primary machines have been recently refurbished. These machines are back on the farm and are being used to process the lager felled exotic trees. The wood retrieved from these exotic trees are either put directly back into the farm in the form of material for infrastructure or sold as timber to fund our ongoing war against invasive plant species.
The machines include:
• The Lucas Mill - a machine that cuts planks or blocks from felled trees
• A large surface planer to put a finished surface to cut planks
• Two large band saws - these machines are used to cut planks to size or cut planks from stored blocks
• Planer blade sharpener - this machine is a shadow machine for the Planer and is dedicated to the sharpening of the planer blades.
Most of these machines are old, some of which date back to as far as 1878. They are beautiful old machines and include an old Lister Blackstone engine powered generator which used to be the power supply for the town of Albertinia. These machines showcase spectacular engineering and can be found at our new headquarter building that was the original sawmill.
Strawberry Hill Farm forms part of the Grootvadersbosch (GVB) Conservancy . A group of like-minded farmers committed to maintaining healthy natural ecosystems within their farms and farming with their natural surroundings in mind. The conservancy acts as a buffer zone between Cape Nature’s Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve and the surrounding agricultural lands.
The conservancy focuses a lot of effort in the removal of exotic invasive tree species that threaten natural fresh water ecosystems and water security by choking the drainage lines in the landscape and in turn reducing water flow by soaking up water. These invasive tree species also displace local species which negatively impacts the natural ecosystems they invade. The conservancy has prioritized the removal of these invasive trees and has teamed up with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Land-Care to tackle the issue.
The latest project the conservancy has taken on is the GASPP project (Grootvadersbosch Aquatic Species Protection Project). This project, funded by the Table Mountain Fund), is directed at assessing and monitoring stream and river quality and to monitor the population health and distribution range of indigenous and endemic fish species within the conservancy. A number of sites are selected to be monitored annually. These sites are monitored using SASS and fish netting. The SASS method (Stream Assessment Scoring System) is a standard method of stream health evaluation that uses water property readings and invertebrate species abundance and diversity to determine stream health.
Strawberry Hill Farm is a proud member of the (GVB) Conservancy and our surrounding natural ecosystem is number one on our agenda. Roughly 80% of South Africa’s total land area is dedicated agricultural land which gives farmers the mantle of responsibility to keep our natural ecosystems and their respective ecosystem services healthy. We are dedicated to holding that mantle high.