Now this is a place you definitely have to visit – especially if you enjoy cooking with fresh herbs! Just about every herb under the sun is available, and the smell that meets you when entering the shop or nursery is simply divine.

Boasting the largest variety of herbs in South Africa, Peter’s Gate Herbal Centre is situated right off the R103 in Lidgetton, and very easy to find when meandering through the KZN Midlands.

Organic gardening requirements as well as essential oil and herb plants are on sale in the nursery, while in the shop you will find herbal gifts, books, medicinal teas, creams and tinctures.

If you are feeling energetic or curious to learn more about growing your own herbs – walking tours, workshops and courses are on offer as well. For more information, tel 033 234 4451 or e-mail petegate@mweb.co.za

Karen and Geoff Makin developed Peter’s Gate over twelve years ago. The name Peter’s Gate implies “a glimpse over heaven” and refers to the beautiful view over the Caversham Valley. The Makins have a passion for all that is natural and organic, and are sensitive to the ecological needs of the world around them. It is this passion that goes into the growing of their wide range of herb plants and into every product made on site.

Through a Q&A session Karen tells us about the business itself, the challenges it presents and what makes it so successful.

Q: Tell us about your main product and how it’s unique

A: Our main product is herb plants, but we also have an excellent range of natural soaps made on the farm, and a really successful African Potato Healing Cream – with home grown raw material.

Q: What are the main challenges your business faces?

A: At the moment a great challenge is the recession, but over the years the main challenge has been training the consumer into the uses of truly natural products – not products that are full of preservatives, parabins and other chemicals. It is also a challenge encouraging the consumer to recycle and invest in worm farms and compost heaps instead of throwing out their kitchen waste and using chemical fertilizers.

Q: What do you think makes your business a successful one?

A: Our business makes us happy, simply because we love what we do. Living in such a beautiful place also helps! Location is very important – our position on the Midlands Meander has worked very well for us. We also have excellent staff – all nine of them are all very skilled in the recognition and use of herbs.

Q: Tell us how your business is Proudly South African

A: Our raw materials are sourced locally, our suppliers are local and we believe in small business’s role in the development of the economy. We also help the community by supplying local muti and food gardens with our extra plants, and we work hard towards keeping our piece of South Africa green.

Q: What advice can you give to someone starting their own business?

A: Don’t over capitalise! Be realistic and start small with an honest product that you believe in. Marketing is very important, and the same goes for packaging. A website is also a must, and sound financial planning is crucial. Work hard and do it yourself – an owner managed business is always more successful.

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