Meet a wonderful family who excels in always staying true to their health and well-being, respects the earth we live and walk on, and provides the same love and care for their community.


We don’t always feel our heartbeats every second of the day, but if we stop and concentrate we will feel that thump, thump, thump. We can say the same about the Duncan family, who have been keeping the community’s heartbeat healthy and steady. They have been providing Howick with fresh, naturally grown produce for decades through their whole food organic business called Dovehouse Organics. But, there’s more to the Duncan family than kale and smoothies. We took the time to get to know them a little bit better.


At the helm of Dovehouse Organics are Paul and Shereen Duncan. They met in 1999 in their mid-twenties through mutual friends who all lived in the Midlands. Shereen relocated to KwaZulu-Natal when she was 21 to start a new chapter in her life and met many new people along the way. She recalls them as “alternative thinkers” – some eco-warriors, permaculturists, vegetarians, natural healing therapists and environmentalists.


Meeting Paul, who has been a permaculturist since his early twenties, reinforced her love of nutrition and nature and set her on a path towards cultivating health, not only for her and her family but on a larger scale, for others and the earth. She has been learning along the way while raising three children, Keira (22 years old), Taur (19 years old), and Tayah (15 years old).


Paul grew up on a farm in Karkloof which was where he cultivated a deep connection with nature. He travelled to the UK in the 1990s to learn more about organic agriculture. When he returned to South Africa, a friend introduced him to permaculture, which he was immediately interested in. He became involved in assisting NGOs with organic farming methods and also opened a training centre that offered a SETA-accredited natural farming training program and an agroecological program with intakes of over a thousand students. Paul is currently no longer involved in training but has instead focused on developing natural farming production systems on their farm.


Arthur Duncan, Paul’s father owned a herd of Jersey cows and a retail dairy called Jersey Island Dairy. However, in August 1980, their farm was destroyed in a fire and only a number of cows survived.


The Duncans then purchased their present farm, Dovehouse, and its legacy is being continued by Paul and Shereen, hopefully for generations to come. Taur, who recently finished school, has also become very involved in aspects of the business and aspires to help raise awareness about health and protecting the environment. The youngest Duncan, Tayah, is currently finishing her matric through Cambridge and aims to travel during her gap year next year before she continues her studies in Economics and Industrial Psychology.


Although the Duncan family is somewhat synonymous with nature, their family also has two sporting champions. Keira, the eldest, is an enduro mountain biker who won the SA champs in 2018 and claimed two silver medals in 2021 and 2022. He has had his fair share of injuries, but that hasn’t changed his desire to race against the best of the best. He has undoubtedly been inspired by the amazing Karkloof forest trails that he grew up around, but also by his father Paul and grandad Arthur who rode bikes for many years. He is now employed at the Karkloof Country Club and manages the trails there, but aims to travel overseas to compete at a few international enduros, taking his racing to the next level and claiming the 2023 SA Champion title.


Arthur has been an exemplary model and motivator for the younger Duncan generation. He started cycling when he was in his 60s and competed in several multi-staged cycling events. He has competed in the Sani2c eight times, his latest one being at 85 years of age which he and Keira participated in together.


Arthur also holds South African and KZN Road and TT Champion titles and has competed in the World Championships on three occasions, becoming World Champion in September 2022. “I felt proud to have represented South Africa at one of cycling’s iconic events with over 2000 competitors from 65 nations. To be invited to the podium to receive the rainbow jersey and gold medal was awesome and very emotional as they played the national anthem.”


The Duncan family is passionate about the welfare of the planet, caring for soil health, ethical food production, nutrition, and providing wholesome, healthful foods to the community. Their dream has been to develop a food forest on their farm, and over the last two decades, there has been an abundance of food, spring water and various fruits like gooseberries, raspberries, granadillas, plums and so much more. Their kitchen also prepares daily baked goods and frozen meals that cater to gluten-free and vegan diets, while steering far away from harmful chemicals, products, and ingredients.


As Arthur explains, “Our passion and desire is to show others that it is never too late to start taking personal control of your health and how you age.” This goes hand in hand with the ethos that drives Dovehouse to be the natural powerhouse it is in the Midlands today. They are a gem in our community, and we can learn a lot from them towards cultivating a more sustainable future.


Words: Alicia du Plessis

Photos: Dané Turvey Photography