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  • Lisa Martus


Travel should be about feeding all of your senses with the best there is on offer at your destination. We often forget that the real flavour of a place comes through in the unique food experiences we have... with food that is organic and home-grown with love.

With the Farm to Fork, Slow Food and Eat Local movements gaining momentum around the world, travellers now want to know more about where their food comes from and to support local producers. Mountain Foodies is a group of businesses from Magoebaskloof and surrounds who originally got together to market and deliver food to their customers during lockdown. This dynamic group of women used Covid to rethink, revise and re-imagine their products and their priorities during the pandemic which brought their normal business avenues to an abrupt halt.

By combining forces, and collaborating to overcome the logistical challenges, they managed to find new ways of doing things but always with a commitment to ethically-grown produce and delicious, locally-sourced slow-food made from scratch. Lovers of beautifully-presented, flavourful, organic food live here in Magoebaskloof, George’s Valley, Politsi and Tzaneen and the initial, founding group has swelled in numbers. Their unique skills, made even more powerful by their collective dynamism, tap in on the collaborative and nurturing spirit of women to make magic, spilling over into other areas from eco-packaging to education and climate change. An initiative like this encourages us to connect to our earth, slow down, eat food made with love and to support local.

‘Slow Food was started by Carlo Petrini and a group of activists in the 1980s with the initial aim to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life. ... Today Slow Food represents a global movement involving thousands of projects and millions of people in over 160 countries. The slow food movement believes food should be grown and bought locally, prepared with care and consumed with appreciation. In a world where we can get cheap, processed food and gobble it down without even leaving our cars, Slow Food seems like a throwback to a different era.’ In Magoebaskloof, the Slow Food Movement is celebrated with organic produce from the growers, producers, farmers, restaurants and chefs in the area, contributing to ‘a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet.’

Magoebaskloof and the quaint village, Haenertsburg, have become a popular tourist destination in the past few years due to the breathtaking scenery, the 'local is lekker' culture of the mountain folk who call it home as well as its proximity to the big cities like Jozi and Tshwane. The hamlet of Haenertsburg seems to appear out of nowhere on one of the downhill stretches of the rollercoaster route zigzagging from Polokwane down to the lowveld town of Tzaneen. This is part of the charm of this tucked-away town, that it seems somehow hidden from the world. But Haenertsburg has fast become one of Limpopo's most popular secret hideaways as visitors have discovered more and more reasons to head to the mountains of Magoebaskloof.

The first place which visitors to the area happen upon is a quaint and quirky log cabin on the side of the road just before you turn into Haenertsburg. The bright red and white Swiss flag and board proclaiming 'Cheese' gives you the clue that you are going to find some of the most delicious organic cheddar, mutchli, sweet milk, feta and cream cheeses made in the traditional Swiss method in a copper cauldron over an open fire at Wegraakbosch Organic Farm and Dairy.

The Cheese Hut also has hand-made chorizo hanging from hooks; shelves packed with jams for every taste and the most divine olives known to mankind, as well as big and beautiful bunches of proteas, pincushions and waratahs in season. As you sample slivers of the hard alpine cheese, called Thabeng or the Lesedi inspired from Swiss alpine and emmenthaler recipes, you will realise that the Wegraakbosch family have brought their own African roots to these traditional European cheeses and that these slow-food treats are made with love and care. The Mountain Foodies will be running a weekly market at the Cheese Stall where locals and visitors can buy the most delicious fresh bread, farm-grown veggies, sweet treats, biltong, jams and preserves before heading to the Pancake House or Stella’s Farm Deli for coffee.

Although the Cheese Stall is an iconic feature of any road trip through Magoebaskloof, the real experience is to be found on Cheerio Road at Wegraakbosch Organic Farm. Next-generation Farmer, Michi Kröger is one of the founding members of the Mountain Foodies and wanted to collaborate to promote local businesses which produce food that is ‘homemade, locally grown and packed with goodness.’ Michi and the dedicated Wegraakbosch team are inextricably linked to the environment they nurture every day. Their organic farming principles and commitment to this little piece of the planet is infused into their cheeses, chorizo, olives and fresh veggies. Their choice of farming practices hinges on its ability to promote the natural environment, in this case granite grassland and afro-montain forest.

You can order a cheese and chorizo platter and sit under the vines at Wegraakbosch Farm on Cheerio Road, with happy creatures strolling by. If you book in advance, you can be like a local and order organic local veggies, dairy and sausages which are delivered to Haenertsburg and Tzaneen once a week but the Wegraakbosch treats can also be found at markets around the area, at Foodzone in Haenertsburg, SugarHill Minimart in Tzaneen as well as on the farm. Look out for the next Cooking classes with Laaiksfood held at Wegraakbosch using freshly-harvested ingredients.

The Cheese Stall in Haenertsburg is open during the week between 7.00 am and 4.00pm or Saturdays & Sundays from 7.00 am to 11.30 am. Book for the Dairy Tour at 10.00 at Wegraakbosch Farm or order in advance for a Ploughman’s on the stoep outside the dairy. Call: 072 361 0664 or 072 370 1886. Closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day

‘Cooking is all about people,” says renowned American restaurateur, Guy Fieri. “Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.’

The flavours of your local seasonal marketplace should delight and enchant your senses with vibrant colours and delicious scents and Limpopo is one of the best places in the country to savour slow-food, organic produce and food made with love. Whether it is the divine flavour of a ripe avocado… the heady fragrance of blossom-infused honey… the tastebuds tingle of Golden Kiwi Atchar or the subtle taste of buttery macadamias… the world becomes an enchanted place when food is shared. There’s nothing better than opening a box of love from Limpopo filled with the delectable treats you have chosen, delivered right to your front door. You don’t even have to step off your stoep.

Fresh From the Farm ZA owner Susannah Cole Hamilton has infused her personal values into this small, women-led business, prioritising organic, ethical, locally-grown produce supplied all around the country with minimum packaging. Suzy’s right-hand woman, Mohlao Mokgolane has been empowered to grow into her position, developing the necessary skills to process orders and develop ongoing relationships with customers. Everything supplied by Fresh From the Farm is sourced seasonally from the area so you can have reasonably-priced avocados without taking out a bank loan, straight from the producer to the consumer. Another key element is that by opening up the market for local, small entrepreneurs to include their products on the online shop, Fresh From the Farm makes it possible for them to tap in on a wider client base while customers benefit by getting a wider variety of quality produce.

Appropriately, the business has grown organically from a few boxes sent to Suzy’s son studying at UCT who had a craving for avos and nuts from their Tzaneen farm to an expanding customer-base across the country. Like many businesses, Fresh From the Farm’s online presence and convenient delivery door to door seemed like a perfect solution during lockdown for people to be able to access delicious, fresh and healthy produce directly from the Farm. But Suzy is always innovating and evolving her service to suit the ever-changing marketplace so she and the other Mountain Foodies are currently working on developing local collection points so that Limpopians can order smaller amounts more regularly and benefit from special discounts. So if you would like to have avocados, cold-pressed oils, raw honey, venison droëwors or pecan and macadamia nuts, take a look at and get the flavours of Limpopo delivered directly from the farm to your table.

Cicadas Local is a grower in Magoebaskloof who supplies microgreens, quail’s eggs and other yummy treats to hotels and restaurants who buy in bulk. Owner, Teri Wilson has seasonal, raw mountain honey; blueberries from December to February as well as organic kiwis, Klippiesveld Goats’ Cheese; Tzamac Macadamias and Old Packhouse Gin. She is part of the Mountain Foodies initiative to have a space in Haenertsburg where locals and visitors can buy fresh local produce. Let’s connect to our neighbourhood and celebrate the caretakers of the soil; the bakers of artisanal breads; the nurturers of fruit and free range animals. Cicadas Local: 072 451 7537

Mapula Rakgwahla came to Magoebaskloof from the Modjadji area 13 years ago and started selling vegetables and fruit at the intersection of the R71 near Haenertsburg and the R528, the George’s Valley road. She started off small, but soon grew into a thriving business where passers-by and local restaurants alike would come to her for delicious mangos, bananas, pawpaws, nuts and avocados and her friendly smile. Mapula would ultimately like to get a more permanent structure at her corner ‘padstal’ and also to start farming on a small scale herself. Contact Mapula on 076 549 4050 or whatsapp 067 371 5190.

Foodie treats from maGriets Fine Foods in Haenertsburg are pure yumminess handmade with love by Jessi Scates and the team. This small but very active home food-industry initiative was started many moons ago by family matriarch, Magriet and has expanded from the kitchen, taking over the whole house with 14 bakers, cake-makers and cookie-icers. Let me tell you, the scrumptious snacks made by the maGriets team won’t even touch sides. The kumquat jam will be the first to go, then the apple-pie rusks followed closely by the chocolate brownies and then you will be fighting over the final crumbs of the lavender shortbread and don’t even get us started on THAT habanero paste - a flavour explosion! Jessi also creates spectacular cakes for any occasion. The one sure way we can feed our souls is through local food made with passion so that’s why you must get your hands on the maGriets range when you are in the area.

You can buy their mouth-watering jams, preserves, biscuits and rusks locally at Foodzone, Stella’s Farm Deli and the Magoebaskloof Farmstall or whatsapp Jessi at 083 409 6683 for bespoke orders.

Haidee Human grew up in Tzaneen and, after studying to be a teacher, spent the next 15 years in Switzerland as the global marketing manager for a pharmaceutical company. But when she decided that the corporate world was no longer for her, the waters of the Letaba River were calling so she came back home. She met her husband, a farmer in the George’s Valley area when he came for coffee six years ago and never left. Their company’s name Kampvuur originally belonged to her father-in-law’s biltong company in the 70’s and 80’s. When they took it over four years ago they added the taglines ‘Nou gaan ons braai’ and ‘Unite around the Fire’ reflecting their philosophy that any problem can be solved around a braai fire where new friends can be made.

Their main products are homemade condiments & jams; free-range beef & lamb; biltong & droëwors as well as venison, their most popular being the kudu, eland, impala and wild boar game meats. Visitors also love their marula jam, gooseberry marmalade and sweet chilli sauces which are available at Stella’s Farm Deli in Haenertsburg as well as farmers markets in the area. Haidee believes that there is a lot more to do in the area than just the normal ‘touristy stuff’, and that the abundance of healthy, homemade, farm-grown food in the area is a great drawcard for tourists visiting Magoebaskloof and Tzaneen. She advocated for creating unique, immersive experiences for locals and visitors who would like to learn how to make their own boerewors in the Kampvuur butchery and create a soft cheese or a jar of jam from seasonal fruit at Wegraakbosch farm. Connect with Haidee / Kampvuur at 072 627 5503

The Mountain Foodies are not just about the growers, sellers and creators, Denise Tooley, co-owner of Zwakala River Retreat, and another fourth-generation family on ‘The Mountain’ is the dynamo behind Mina’s Farm Venue and the iconic quarterly Neighbourhood Market. She says, ‘at Mina’s farm kitchen we have always been passionate about good food made from the freshest organic farm-grown and locally sourced products. This ethos underpins all our catering for weddings and events. When the Covid lockdown came and everything came to a grinding halt, we decided to shift our focus towards creating a range of healthy, ready-to-prepare products that people who were looking to shift to a more plant-based diet, could purchase and prepare at home. We are guided by the belief that food is ultimately one’s medicine and that healthy food should be absolutely delicious! We value the support and cooperation between these incredibly dynamic small businesses within the Mountain Foodies collab, and the opportunity to better know each other as well as the products we make or grow!’

Natalie von Ginkel from Meal Maniac has, until recently, assisted Mina’s Farm Venue with their wedding and events catering. Together with the legendary Maggie Moagi head-chef at Zwakala Brewery, the team has delivered some mouthwatering menus over the past year. Natalie says, ‘I have loved working at Mina’s because it is an amazing environment to create beautiful food and they have the same ethos as me.’ Natalie is inspired by taking simple, local produce and making amazing dishes by using loads of fresh herbs and spices. She especially loves creating the first meal that the bride and groom share with family and friends as a married couple.

Mina’s Farm Venue will be hosting a feast for the senses at a pop-up slow-food restaurant featuring a harvest-table style lunch made with local, seasonal produce and the freshest veggies from their garden. There will also be a beer-pairing of delicious treats like Wegraakbosch cheese, Stylkop biltong and local olives with four different Zwakala craft beers. Come and celebrate the Tooley-way with good friends, great food and lots of laughter. Book your Long-table Luncheon in December. Look out for the dates on Facebook. By reservation only: 060 331 2681.

Toasted Tortilla is a pop-up restaurant specializing in authentic Mexican-style street food made on a wood fire. Owner, Riyana Vigeland says ‘most of our produce for our prawn or steak tacos with avocado guacamole is locally-sourced and everything is freshly made in-house, including our new tortillas which are made from masa harina.’ Riyana is originally from Cape Town and grew up along the coast in Strandfontein and Muizenberg, so most of her childhood was spent swimming, surfing and cooking. Riyana’s earliest food memories are with her mom when she was around six years old and was allowed to bake her first cake alone. Riyana says, ‘I still have the recipe today but it didn’t come with instructions - she would just number the ingredients and tell me to start at 1.’

Riyana is a multi-talented woman, with careers such as photojournalist, teacher, photographer, videographer and BBBEE verifications analyst under her belt, so her food photography remained a hobby where she would blog, write restaurant reviews and share images with some of her own recipes. This pastime became a career as a result of watching and learning from the professional chefs she was filming and photographing when she was inspired to complete her culinary training after her daughter was born. Riyana first visited ‘The Mountain’ in 2015 and fell in love with the lifestyle, so after visiting again in 2018, she and her partner decided to relocate to Magoebaskloof. She says, ‘I felt a pop-up would be a great way to build a presence and reputation with low overhead costs but the next step is to find something permanent where people can have a casual dining experience centered around cooking on fire.’

She also loves the idea of cooking meals in secret locations and the freedom that would give her in terms of changing up the menu depending on what's in season, bringing farmers and other food producers into that experience and also inviting other chefs to collaborate to create something special for locals and tourists alike. She says, ‘I would like visitors to fall in love with this place just as I did… not just for its scenic beauty but also for the food and the people who grow and produce it. You can find Toasted Tortilla at markets around Limpopo and catering for private events. Check out their dates on Instagram @the_toastedtortilla or whatsapp 082 556 1032.

I was fortunate to be brought up in a home around passionate cooks, says Laaika Moosa, the dynamo behind Laaiksfood. For her, food was the centre of every event or celebration and now as an adult, she can see why these were such important moments that she treasures deeply. Her food journey started by watching her mother, Zeiboon, a well known cook in the Tzaneen community, spend hours in the kitchen creating, connecting and celebrating. The experience was fundamental to Laaika’s belief that food was a way to bring people together. When she realised that her love of eating good food had transferred to making it, she was thrilled to be able to experiment and entertain others. She says, ‘my diverse upbringing and passion for cultures and people allowed me to connect more deeply and understand what food means to different people.’

Returning back to the Lowveld after years as a teacher and principal, she decided to embark wholeheartedly on her food journey combining her two loves of cooking and teaching - so Laaiksfood came into being. For her, it is all about food that’s made with passion, using quality ingredients. She says, ‘as a teacher I lived for that “lightbulb” moment and now I see it in my cooking classes too. It’s fantastic to see how people come out of their shell once they understand how to create something themselves. Food is an education and it’s always great to teach people new things.’ She recently went on an educational journey to Turkey and Italy where she had a transformational experience with the nonnas in Tuscany and in Palombara Sabina, a little olive region outside of Rome. She says, ‘just being in their presence was amazing enough, but I had the opportunity to see pasta made in the traditional way.’ Her aim is for Laaiksfood to be associated with memorable food experiences, whether it’s ordering a delicious weekly meal, a catered event or special dining experience with beautifully made food, incredible flavours and a good vibe.

Laaika feels that Limpopo is the perfect place to replicate this kind of foodie experience because it brings together an incredible diversity in people, culture and location. She says, ‘this province has so many talented people and beautiful landscapes and I’d like to use food as a platform to highlight this.’ She is working on more food experiences as well as pop-ups at markets around the area and is hoping to expand on some different cooking classes to add to her step-by-step Indian curry, biriyani and middle-eastern dishes. She also wants to add her other passion of travel into the mix by creating a curated travel, food and learning experience. The Mountain Foodies collective continues to inspire her because she loves the diversity and how everyone fits together as a piece of the puzzle. She loves being part of this group of ‘bold, inspiring women working together to bring awareness, make change and create exciting opportunities in our area!’ Contact Laaika on 083 366 8999 or find her on Instagram

Head to Limpopo….breathe in the clean forest air… soak up the views….make friends with the mountain-folk of Magoebaskloof and savour the unique flavour of this soulful space. Come together with the people you love for a celebration of life through food. You won’t be the same person when you leave.

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