Moving to the Natal Midlands has certainly been an adventure. Since our arrival on the farm on the twentieth of June 1997, we have had the pleasure of watching as its herbs and inhabitants have continued to flourish and grow. While the process has not always been as melodic as Simon and Garfunkel predicted, we did indeed managed to find an acre of land and to grow plenty of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
The twentieth of June 1997 marked the arrival and transition of the Makin family from the sweltering suburbs of Phalaborwa to the frosted farmlands of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The move to the Midlands was an attempt to establish new foundations. Geoff (not Peter), who had been a financial manager at the Phalaborwa mines and Karen who had been teaching at the local pre-school, decided to leave behind over extended business trips and to create a business and lifestyle that would allow more time for the family. And with a strong support group founded in now nearby relatives a new adventure began.
Geoff planting in the early days
Just short of a month after the move our family took a second major leap, this time down a rabbit hole into The Looking Glass, a curio and coffee shop. Based on Lewis Carroll’s novels Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass our Looking Glass became famous for its flapjacks, blueberry cheesecake and it very own Cheshire cat. With grandparents behind the scenes and kids close at hand, the shop marked many of our happiest memories and experiences since moving to the Midlands, it provided not only a business opportunity but a chance to get truly rooted in the Midlands and experience the true workings of a family run business. While across the road, the establishment of GFM Flowers, which would later transcend into Peter’s Gate Herb Farm, began to form. You may be confused about the origins of the name Peter’s Gate, especially as you now know the owner’s name is Geoff, well, the name Peter’s Gate was chosen for two specific reasons, firstly, the name is historically relevant as it belonged to a farm owned by Karen’s grandparents and secondly, the name Peter’s Gate refers to the view from the farm, a glimpse over heaven from St Peter’s Gate.
The Looking Glass
As the years progressed, our family adapted to the so called farm style living and adopted many new pets, including Wimbledon, a grey duiker with a partiality for strawberries. The farm continued to grow and Peter’s Gate became the leading herb supplier in Natal. The Looking Glass succeeded for many years but was sold and in 2004 Peter’s Gate Herbal Centre opened. This new addition to the farm saw the establishment of mainly herbal and health products, many of them produced on the premises by Karen. The centre has added to the success of the farm, and contributes to the local export of Peter’s Gate product.
Over the years Peter's Gate has continued to grow. Fuelled by their belief in organic living and the value of the herbal experience Geoff and Karen continue on in their misadventures in the midlands.
Geoff, Karen and Andrew outside the Looking Glass