Wednesday, April 21:
AGM will be held at Silwood Kitchen at 18h00. David Donald,
a suburban bee-keeper, will speak to us on beekeeping and
Our committee has been sadly depleted since two members have
left us to for the Slow Food Mother City convivium (see
below). We need new committee members, and would welcome
Saturday, April 24 to Tuesday, April 27:
Annual SA Cheese Festival. No tickets sold at the gate.
Bookings at Computicket or Checkers; R110 Saturday or
Sunday, R90 Monday or Tuesday or R70 for seniors any day.
More details at
www.cheesefestival.co.za. On Monday morning
there will be a presentation of Slow awards to selected
artisanal cheese producers.
Friday, May 14-Sunday May 16:
Franschhoek Literary Festival: On Friday 14, there will be a foodie talk hosted by Donald Paul, who will be sharing
‘amuse geules’ with Mark Dendy-Young, Marlene van der
Westhuizen and Myrna Robins, at 11.30 in the Dutch Reformed
Saturday, May 22:
Visit to The Nice Company in Tokai for a talk and tasting on
their delectable ice creams and frozen yogurts by owner Cherylle Cowley.
Robertson Slow. This long weekend is an opportunity to
‘indulge in the laid-back comfort of the Valley, at a
leisurely pace, leaving you utterly refreshed.’ The
Robertson Wine Valley is looking to attract visitors
yearning to experience the charm of country life in intimate
settings characterised by each farm’s unique personal touch.
While enjoying time-honoured activities, visitors will be
afforded the opportunity to interact with wine-makers and
wine farmers, in an informal ambience, getting to know them
and their respective families.
For more information, Tel 023 626 3167, or email
Saturday 11 September:
Visit to the Khoi-Khoin indigenous garden at Solms
Delta in Franchhoke, followed by a lunch featuring some of
the traditional plants used by the Khoi in their food.
Renata Coetzee’s book will be on sale (see Book Review
End of Year Spit Braai
On Sunday 29 November we had a wonderfully convivial
gathering at the home of Stephen and Pat Flesch on
the banks of the Zeekoevlei. Besides the superb lamb
braaied over wood coals by Leon, there were
delicious salads provided by various Slow members. Our
fundraising raffle raised the sum of R8 000.00, which was
donated to Pat Featherstone for her Soil for Life
LETTER FROM PAT FEATHERSTONE OF SOIL FOR LIFE
Dear members of the CT Slow Food Convivium
Soil for Life: growing food; growing people; growing communities
We would like to thank you from the bottom of our collective
Soil for Life heart for your generous donation to our work. R8
000 will provide support for at least 16 home gardeners for one
year in terms of seed, seedlings, compost, mulch and herb plants
for a summer and winter planting. It will also go towards
creating opportunities for these people to grow themselves from
the inside out though our life skills programme which runs
concurrently with the food gardening training.
The Home Gardening programme for 2009 was an unmitigated success
with a total of 320 new home gardeners in over ten different
areas in and around Cape Town. Some very beautiful and bountiful
veggie patches have sprung up in the most unexpected places and
people are benefiting from the fresh, nutritious food that
they're growing outside their back doors. We've worked out that
the spin-off from each small 'patch of salvation' is
considerable. One home gardener’s efforts support, on average,
four to six other people. In addition, these people are going
into the new year with hope and courage, having realised their
own potential for creating change in their lives. They are
recognising that the world 'radiates possibility' of a better
life for them and their families.
We have set out targets even higher for 2010 with a total of 450
new gardeners anticipated. At the time of writing, we already
have 109 people registered, paid up, and undergoing their
training. New groups are springing up all the time and are
waiting in the ‘wings’ to get their gardens going. Your interest
and support have helped to plant the seeds of change in the
communities in which we work. Thank you all for your generosity.
I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Soil for
Life team, of wishing you all a new year of 'simple abundance'.
TIERHOEK AND TOONTJIESRIVIER VISIT
We realised in the morning of Saturday 20 February that it
was going to be a very hot day, but the early morning drive
out to the Noree and Nuy valleys was pleasant, and the
scenery took us out of the city atmosphere in mind and
Bruce Gilson of Tierkloof/Spaarhoek met our group, and told
us about the journey he and his wife Alison had made to
establish this certified organic farm. We sampled some of
their excellent products before going to the peach orchards
to pick (and eat) delicious fruit from the trees.
This farm produces apricots, peaches, plums, citrus,
mangoes, prickly pears, grapes, olives and vegetables. They
make the range of Tierhoek Organic jams and dried fruit.
There is also accommodation in available in self-catering
cottages on the farm (see article below on how they
achieved their organic certification).
Beautiful organic plums growing at Tierhoek
Slow members at Tierhoek
On arrival at Toontjiesrivier for lunch, we heard that they
were in the midst of a water crisis: the baboons in the
mountain, feeling very thirsty in the heat of the day, had
quenched their thirst by breaking open the farm water pipes,
leaving the farm without running water. Bryce had to produce
a meal for the Slow members under the most trying
circumstances. We nevertheless were able to cool ourselves
in the swimming pool while waiting for the delayed lunch. We
felt that the term ‘slow’ was given its full meaning while
waiting to sample the delights of his cooking. The meal,
when it arrived, was delicious, using produce and wine from
the surrounding area. Hats off to Bryce for keeping his cool
in hot and extremely difficult circumstances.
By mid-afternoon the temperature had reached 42 degrees in
the Nuy valley, and we were thankful for air-conditioning in
the car on the drive home.
This farm has guest cottages, and offers meals if requested.
ORGANIC CERTIFICATION: HOW TIERHOEK DID IT
by Bruce Gilson
In January 1998 we moved onto what was basically a canning farm
producing Super Gold apricots, Bulida apricots, Yellow Cling
In our first year the Supergolds did fantastically and we had a
record harvest. The cannery took everything and paid us very
well. The peach price was also fairly good. We decided to plant
more apricots and renew some of the peaches. This was the last
time it happened! The following year the canneries moved the
goal posts and refused to take Supergold, as their machines
couldn’t depip them. The quality requirements for peaches were
increased considerably. The writing was on the wall for the
canning factories, and our little farm, if we didn’t do
Both Alison and I were both horrified by the volume, toxicity
and cost of the sprays we were using on the orchards. The
peaches were sprayed up to 15 times in the year with a
concoction of heavy organo-phosphates and foliar feeds. We
killed the weeds 3 times a year with a systemic weed killer
that’s banned or restricted in Europe. Our spray man had to go
for yearly check ups to see how contaminated he was. Let alone
the safety suits, breathing masks and heavy duty rubber gloves
that had to be worn. The chemicals have to be stored in fire
proof rooms with forced ventilation. We had to have emergency
showers for accidental spillage and ‘enter and leave’ times in
orchards so the farm workers don’t get contaminated from
fall-out and residues on the trees. The soils were hard and
crusty with very little living in them. Not a worm in sight -
soil should have a deep earthy smell, ours did not. The reason
for this was that our soils were getting salt-based fertiliser
two to three times a year at 50 to 80Kg per Ha per shot. This
just could not be right; we were killing our farm, our staff and
We also realised that as a small mountain farm we just could not
survive on what the canneries wanted to pay us. We needed a new
market for our apricots, peaches and plums.
Going organic was the only way to go!
We approached the BSA (British Soil Association) and SGS (Société
Générale de Surveillance) as we thought they had the most
comprehensive, respected, consistent organic guidelines and had
the most trustworthy reputation here and in Europe.
It took a while to get my head around the principles and
practices of Organic farming and get used to jokes from all my
neighbours, at our social braais.
We started by planting new apricot, peach and plum orchards and
put them into ‘Organic Registration’ with a pre audit from SGS,
while keeping the old trees conventional for the time being.
This was because we could not afford the expected production
drop and I had to learn how to farm organically. After the first
year’s audit SGS put the trees into ‘Organic Conversion’ for two
years. SGS then audit the farm every year with the option of an
unannounced audit at any time. They have full access to our
management records and our financial records. Soil, leaf and
water samples are taken as well. Two years later we were allowed
to call the young orchards ‘Organic’ and market them as such.
The old trees were then put through a four year process as they
had been conventionally farmed for so long. The certification
required they were in conversion for a year longer. They
actually took quite a lot of strain having been on fertiliser
all their lives ... cold turkey! Production dropped and branches
actually died back and there was minimum
re-growth. With composts, mulches and compost tea we are slowly getting them
With the markets in Woolworths, Waitrose (UK) and various small
outlets we packed furiously. We have a top quality product and
everyone wants it. But the waste is huge and this made us launch
off into jams and dried fruit and develop our own brand
‘Tierhoek Organic’. We are fortunate as there are no other
certified organic jams or dried fruit in South Africa. However
we did not just want to trade on this but also be a product that
tasted fantastic. We are fortunate in that we are able to pack
the jam with fruit. By putting in 65% fruit we make a jam worthy
of anyone’s granny or ouma.
The dried fruit is ripened on the tree and then dried in large
drying machines which basically warm up and blow air around,
removing the moisture. There is no need for sulphur or Methyl
bromide fumigation which is what most dried fruit is treated
with for colour preservation and fungus prevention. Ugh!
We are now selling our products across South Africa, Namibia and
Mauritius. Some of the dried fruit has gone into biscuits which
are sold in the USA. This year we hope to move into the European
Our soft citrus, satsumas and clementines, have struggled with
the lack of nutrients to produce packable fruit. Having started
drying them in the form of naartjie bites we have now started
covering them in dark organic chocolate…out of this world!
We are a small farm with a very dedicated team who are vital to
it all happening. Alison and I have a ball doing this and we
know we are selling something out of this world, but boy it
takes a lot of precious time and energy and we don’t really know
just how big it’s all going to get. We love having our five farm
cottages which we rent to visitors, as a way of showing off our
amazing farm. Having guests come and stay who can leave with
that feeling of rest and tranquillity is something which we very
WINE HARVEST AT JOOSTENBURG
Saturday 13 March dawned fine and clear and, fortunately, not
too hot. Members gathered on the lawns in front of the historic Joostenberg Manor House, before being taken on the back of the
trailer to pick the grapes. A great time was had by all,
including a number of very enthusiastic children, first picking,
then watching the grapes being stripped from their stalks and
poured into the vats, and finally climbing in and treading them.
Everyone then returned to the Manor House, where a well-earned
and delicious breakfast awaited us, eaten under the trees, and
accompanied by the excellent Joostenberg wines. In the relaxed,
informal setting, the general opinion expressed was that this
was one of the best harvests we have had.
Comment from Slow member Lance de Villiers:
Getting out over a weekend with one’s family is one of those
privileges that takes on a higher meaning if one can do it in
such a relaxing environment as the wine country. Especially if
the youngsters can get involved at every level, from grape
picking to stomping to munching. We had a thoroughly enjoyable
time, with the mind since meandering through all sorts of ideas
for future outings. Having learnt of the basic concepts through
Charne, I personally would have appreciated a little more
emphasis on the day at Joostenberg on the elements of Slow Food
that we were to experience and expect there, from viticulture
through to the basic elements and what makes Slow Food slow. For
raw initiates like me, a reminder during the outing of those
things that one experienced and their place in the “Slow Food
Chain” would have added even more value, especially if a
briefing by Tyrrell could have included how Joostenberg fitted
into the concept. I mention this from an educational point of
view for my own benefit. Overall though, one could see the value
of the experience on the faces of the children and in the
aftermath of quietly sleeping angels as soon as our wheels
started rolling back towards Cape Town.
Unloading the grapes for stripping and pressing
Stomping the grapes
Members gathered in front of the Manor House
NEW CONVIVIUM IN CAPE TOWN
The Slow Food movement is growing. Slow Food Cape
Town would like to welcome our sister convivium,
Slow Food Mother City, started late last year by two
of our committee members, Kate Schrire and Pia
Taylor. The geographic area for the new convivium is
the same as our area: Greater Cape Town and the
Western Province. Kate and Pia hope to attract
students, and young members of the community to the
new convivium. Members of the new convivium will be
very welcome at our events, and they assure us that
our members will be welcome to join in any of the
Mother City events that might interest them.
SLOW FOOD CONVIVIA IN OTHER REGIONS
The Johannesburg convivium has been in existence
since 2001 and has around 70 members Go to the
blogspot to see the activities. You could also
attend their events as a member if you’re visiting
The Garden Route convivium started last year in
Knsyna, and you could contact John Huxter to find
out about events there:
A new cookery school, the Chefs Warehouse, is opening at
50 New Church Street in April. It will be run by Chef
and owner, Liam Tomlin, who is planning an exciting
programme of courses and demonstrations.
The first course, Basic Techniques and Methods of
Cookery, will kick off on April 24. It will consist of
twenty classes covering the essential principles of
cooking, based on classic European traditions with an
added Asian influence inspired by the fourteen years he
spent in Asia and Australia.
Then, on 12 May, Tim Faull will be presenting a six-part
course in Artisanal baking, entitled Knead to Know – a
sensory journal to Artisan baking.
A twelve-part wine-tasting course, presented by Caroline Rillema, will begin on May 20.
In addition, there will be a series of demonstrations by
celebrated local chefs, including:
Neil Jewel of Bread & Wine on 5 May
Bruce Robertson of Road Show Gourmet Excursions on 6h
Peter Templehof of The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel on 11h May
Alexander Meuller of Pure on 24h May
The guest chef courses will consist of a three hour
demonstration where participants will have the
opportunity to sample three of the dishes that the chef
will prepare and wine to complement the food.
Koekemakranka: Kohoi-Khoin-Kultuurgoed and Kom-Kuier-Kos
Renata Coetzee en Volker Miros. LAPA Uitgewers.
Renata Coetzee recently received an honorary doctorate
from the University of the North for her lifetime’s
research into the eating cultures of the indigenous
peoples of South Africa. In this book she has teamed up
with photographer Volker Miros to examine the
centuries-old culture of the Khoi by looking not only at
their traditional foods, but other aspects of
way of life: their clothing, dwellings music,
with even a description of how their grass huts
are made. She discusses the various plants used
as food, many of which are now endangered, and
describes how to plant a ‘veldkos’ garden.
She concludes with recipes using these traditional foods
in a modern kitchen. Beautifully illustrated with a
wealth of colour photographs, this is a valuable
addition to our cultural literature.
At present the book is available in Afrikaans only, but
an English translation will be published later.