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Together with Head Chef Benjamin Conradie and Executive Sous Chef Beenyamin Booysen, we invited a group of handpicked individuals knowledgeable in the art of foraging and fynbos for the SAFL (South African Food Label) event.
Loubie Rusch, founder of KOS products – bottled wild food produce, started a strategy to promote the cultivation of wild food on local community and urban farms joined our group. Her goal is to stimulate greater interest in and sustainable access to local wild foods.
Kobus Van der Merwe, Owner and Executive Chef at Oep Ve Koep – a restaurant based in Paternoster, also joined us. He uses locally sourced fynbos in his dishes like dune spinach, samphire and sout slaai.
Other guests included individuals from the University of Cape Town and the Slow Food Youth Network.
We started with a tour of the Grootbos farm Siyakula to show the group Grootbos’ organic farm and how we produce organic vegetables and educate the community on growing there own produce.
We then went to the sand dunes along the coast of De Kelders Die Plaat to see if we could find some edible fynbos to taste and learn how to use as a group.
We found kruipvygie, samphire , sout slaai and mustard leaf, and took it back to the fynbos retreat to use in the evening.
The brainstorming session came next where we got into groups to discuss how we can educate people and change their mindsets on how to make local ingredients more accessible, and how to make people feel comfortable with the use and collecting of Fynbos.
In today's world, it is so easy for us to go to the shops and grab our groceries all under one roof without realizing what nutrients we are putting into our bodies.
We don’t realize that the majority of crops that are sold in the supermarket are mass-produced in order to keep up with high demand.
They have lost a lot of their nutrients, which will create problems not only now, but in the near future as the population and demand increases.
By using more local produce and learning how to utilise what we have in our back gardens, we know where our food is coming from and that the produce is organic. Therefore the nutritional value is a lot higher.
It just takes a bit of education to get there and this is what SAFL is trying to create.
After a long day brainstorming, experimenting and trying out our collections, we all got together in the kitchen and cooked up a feast for everyone to enjoy.
We took free-range chickens and marinated them in wild rosemary, confetti bush and wild sage, and made beautiful spatchcocks with them.
As side dishes, we made a potato salad using kruipvygie and samphire from the dunes earlier in the day, as well as some of the ingredients from the Grootbos farm.
And what is a good evening with friends without a perfect drink to match? We infused gin with Milkwood berries, wild malva (pelargonium) and buchu. We also made vermouth – a cocktail where we infused the wine with kankerbossie, which definitely spiced up the evening.
After time spent as a team, we all came away with fresh ideas and different ways to develop solidarity in the community.
We will be getting together in the New Year to re-evaluate how the different ideas worked and come up with new approaches in the same setting as this one. Stay tuned!
Come enjoy your own foraging adventure. Visit Grootbos Farm today.