Drawing from his own wild and carefree childhood growing up on a farm in the Eastern Cape, developer Mike Graham rediscovered his passion for nature when he created his family home in Sheffield Beach over two decades ago. His latest development, Springvale, is born from the same passion and shares the same values.
“In all my spare time, my dog and I were free to roam and fish and explore from dawn to dusk. I have never lost that love of independence and exploration and this has guided my business career,” says Mike, a successful entrepreneur, father and grandfather.
It was while he was completing his MBA degree at UCT that Mike discovered his entrepreneurial streak. “Soon thereafter I met Mary and we got engaged and married while helping a friend build a yacht. This resulted in two idyllic years sailing, including a year as a charter skipper in the Caribbean.”
When they returned home, Mike became the financial director and then MD of a low-cost housing company. He then bought a wall panel business and moved to the North Coast in 1992.
“Mary and I used to jog along Colwyn Drive from Salt Rock and we were intrigued to hear that a farmer was selling five-hectare properties on the beach road. We fell in love with a property that was to become our current home, Birdhaven.”
What stood out to them, he says, was the fact that it had a little stream and some springs and wonderful sea views from the upper slopes. “We could picture our dream home there, but our imaginations had to work hard because we were in the midst of a drought, the springs had dried up and there was not a single tree on the entire property.”
Over the following years, Mike and Mary planted over 4000 trees and shrubs and the garden developed quickly. “The whole project has been so rewarding in so many ways. We love watching Fish Eagles catching tilapia in our dam and, in recent years, have had a family of thick tailed bush babies joining us as permanent residents.”
“The Birdhaven project gave us much joy so we couldn’t resist it when we heard the same farmer was selling 58 hectares next to the Flag Animal Farm. This was a wonderful opportunity to do another ‘Birdhaven’, but on a much bigger scale, and thus Springvale Country Estate was born.”
A true family project, Springvale, situated on gently rolling slopes with little streams, dams and beautiful riverine tree lines, has allowed Mike to work closely with his wife, his daughter Catherine (who heads up the marketing) and his son Stuart, who’s company Springvale Estates is responsible for the sales. “We overlap, but each of us has the satisfaction of independence and clear-cut achievement.”
Springvale, Mike says, is being developed for families who share his family’s values and offers a space for a new generation of ‘grubby little children’ to roam free.