This piece, unlike my previous postings, provided a particular challenge. While aiming to remain true to my New Year’s Resolution, my aim was to connect with my food, and more intimately, connect with the person responsible for my food. I thought at first, that that shouldn’t present a problem at all. After all I am hardly an unsocial character, and it’s not as if I live my life as some kind of Gourmet Grinch, not speaking to anyone and only communing with my vegetables. It has been noted on many an occasion that I do converse with people, and that after a glass of wine, I’m even quite good at it.
The irony struck me almost immediately, that my challenge was to connect with the person,in this instance – Margot – the irony lying in the fact that Margot is no stranger to me, not even in the slightest. The truth is, is that Margot is a very good friend of mine, and has regularly and dependably shared her coffee and her advice with me. The coffee being strong, and mostly the advice on life and love, well; stronger. My ignorance, and perhaps a little of my selfishness, showed itself in the notion that Margot only had advice and wisdom and nourishment to share with me, when the truth is that Margot has enough wisdom for an entire generation.
Margot is a true African Woman. She wears wisdom and practicality as easily as she wears her Wellie boots. Margot, and her husband Dan, share an earthly gruffness that may come across as intimidating, but only in the way that the thorn appears intimidating before one notices the rose. Margot is a Farmer in every sense of the word. She farms, and when I asked her how she came to know all she knows, well she couldn’t quite give me an answer. She just knew, and asked, and experimented until she got the kind of answers and results she was satisfied with. Today, she will tell you, she still has so much to learn and when I ask her ‘What is that tree? or that flower?’ she sometimes shrugs and says something quirky such as “I think it’s an Almond tree, but I’m not sure’. But when I ask her how long until the tomatoes are ripe, she answers confidently, ‘about 10 days, maybe 2 weeks, depends on the rain’. I crouched down to take a picture of her budding strawberries, red and glowing beneath their foliage. She waits for a full 15 minutes to pass, as I move the leaves aside in an effort to catch the best light, before casually mentioning that ‘a small snake likes to live there, be careful not to disturb him too much’. Great. Now she tells me.
For a city dweller such as myself (and a self-confessed stranger to all cows), Margot offers a refreshing, and sometimes belief-shaking insight into the life of a modern-day, metropolitan Farmer. Margot’s farm, Back Area Gardens, is well within city limits, in truth almost suburban. And with a little knowledge, a lot of patience, and a bit of luck with the African rain, Margot produces fresh salad leaves, soft herbs, cabbages, spinach, fennel, onions, various zucchini, artichoke, fresh strawberries, tomatoes, beans and legumes, sweet peas and petit pois, as well as distributing fresh, organic produce from all over the Western Cape, to many dozens of Cape Town’s households. These include fresh organic eggs, butter, natural yoghurt, delicious cheeses, olives and olive oils, dried beans, legumes, quinoa and honey and not forgetting the most beautiful natural soaps, coconut oils and natural balms.
Margot farms what she can, when she can, weather and season depending. Occasionally, she includes a bag of fresh rocket or a bunch of beetroot in your order– just because it’s good now. She says it innocently and with a sense of practicality, as if, somehow you too, knew that the beetroot was good now. Margot happily packs up her produce for you to take back to your kitchen – I can’t quite reconcile how she can put so much love into her work, and yet simultaneously let it go so easily.
Contact Margot on email to place your order, seasons permitting, or stop by for a look around the gardens and take home some local dairy produce, eggs, grains and olive oils for the pantry. Share the wealth, and taste the love. Take some time this week to connect with your food.
Contact Margot on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on what’s in season or call 072 696 3196 before visiting
Back Area Gardens, Oude Molen Eco Village, Alexandra Road ,Pinelands Cape Town
easily accessible from the N2 North and South & M5, approximately 7 min from the City Bowl and 10-15min from the Southern Suburbs.