I am fascinated with the idea of indigenous food. If we didn’t have plants and animals introduced, over time, from all corners of the earth, and only had access to what originated right here, what would we be eating right now? How many indigenous plants could we even recognise as edible at all?

Not many, is my guess, which is why I’m very excited to be learning all about it next weekend. Slow Food Cape Town has organised a special tour of the indigenous ‘veldkos’ garden out at Solms Delta Farm near Franschhoek (Saturday 11 September 2010).

The hour-and-half long tour will be led by well-known food writer, Renata Coetzee, who was part of the planning team for the garden. Renata will point out what’s what, and tell us more about the history of the plants and of the garden. We’ll also be able to smell and taste the indigenous plants and herbs, and admire the fat-tailed sheep and Sanga cattle (traditionally herded by the Khoi).

Slow Food Mother City (yes, there are two Slow Food groups in Cape Town) will be tagging along for the garden visit, but instead of joining Slow Food Cape Town members for the post-tour lunch at Fyndraai Restaurant on the estate, we’ll be picnicking and viewing the plum blossoms at a neighbouring private farm.

If you’d like to come along for just the garden tour, you can book online here (cost: R40 per person). Bookings for the lunch must be done via Slow Food Cape Town (cost: R230 for Slow Food members, R250 for guests – including garden tour). Bookings close on Monday (6 September 2010).

Here’s hoping we get a beautiful spring day like this one… mmmm, I can smell the plum blossoms already.

About the garden:

When Fyndraai Restaurant opened on the estate, its brief was to draw from the Cape’s food traditions. Afrikaner boerekos (18th Century Old Cape fare influenced by Dutch, French, German and Slave practices), was mixed with ingredients first used by the Khoi nomads who settled in the Franschhoek valley 2000 years ago. The need to preserve this veldkos was the genesis for the Veldfood Garden.

“Solms-Delta farm is a wine estate located 15km outside the village of Franschhoek.

In addition to producing fine wines on the farm, the owners and farm workers have established a working culinary veldkos garden. The lives of the Cape’s first settlers, the Khoi, revolved around some 400 plant species that nourished them and cured their ailments. Most are now under threat of extinction.

When Fyndraai Restaurant opened on the estate, its brief was to draw from the Cape’s food traditions. Afrikaner boerekos (18th Century Old Cape fare influenced by Dutch, French, German and Slave practices), was mixed with ingredients first used by the Khoi nomads who settled in the Franschhoek valley 2000 years ago. The need to preserve this veldkos was the genesis for the Veldfood Garden.

The 2-hectare garden is a small but productive land parcel that, over the past 320 years, has been used for grazing, fruit production, and most recently, as a dumping ground. It is now planted with many of the edible veldkos plants.”

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