Our Working Garden
The kitchen team at Haute Cabrière are a lucky one, with a 150 m2 garden, comprising of two separate areas, which provides an abundance of produce all year round.
Relying on a garden means one is truly at the mercy of Mother Nature, a crop planted months ago to produce a seasonal tomatillo can be ruined with a day of rain. It’s this reliance that also makes the message of sustainability a strong one as we know what it requires to produce. ‘Our current set back is the water crisis in the Western Cape, when you see it first hand, it makes you truly realise how we need to work to preserve what we have and how fragile our resources are’, comments Chef Nic van Wyk.
This consciousness is how the garden project started. The purpose was to provide a resource to the Haute Cabrière Education centre. The centre opened its doors in 2010 and is a space with qualified teachers who look after and ensure employees children are stimulated after school in a nurturing environment, and also provides a foundation for younger children to have a strong base when starting school.
‘The reality today is that both parents work fulltime. We are extremely grateful that we were able to fill this in a way that gives parents peace of mind, and also ease of use.’ Comments Hildegard von Arnim, Guardian of the Education Centre. The presence of fruit trees, like pomegranate and fig, are a direct result of Hildegard’s upbringing and her green fingers passed down from her grandmother.
The garden provides a valuable teaching tool, from the basics of where food comes from, to responsibility and patience and the practical skill that goes into having a produce garden. ‘It’s a very exciting time when we work in the garden, maintaining of pests sees the children removing snails and feeding them to the chickens, and we often send them home with herbs and a note on how to use them. One child excitedly reported back that the lavender she took home to put under her pillow stopped the insects from biting her.’ Adds teacher Ismi van Niekerk.
The children plant seedlings that are then replanted in the garden, weed and stake the garden crops. A favourite is tomato picking, where one goes in the basket and the other is strictly for quality control!
A full time gardener works with our chefs and Education Centre to plan and plant throughout the year. Recent harvests include aubergine, tomatillo, spinach and herbs, while planting for broad beans begins and jerusalem artichokes are in the ground. ‘ In every dish on the menu, an element from the garden is used, whether it be the main ingredient, or in a base stock.’ Comments Chef Westley Muller.