WEGRAAKBOSCH ORGANIC FARM
In the stillness of the morning, the melodious notes of the dawn chorus weave between the sounds of a farm moving into a new day. Contented cows have the freedom of fields fed by healthy soil and chickens emerge from their nesting baskets tucked into the eaves of the family homestead. This is Wegraakbosch Organic Farm in Magoebaskloof, an off-grid, family-run farmstead living in harmony with their surroundings. Cows produce the famous cheese and other dairy products, the veggie patch provides for the weekly farm boxes delivered to the village and the pigs bring in the bacon.
Back in the 1960s when the farm’s pet rooster, Percy, went into the potato patch and promptly keeled over from the pesticide which had just been applied, Clifford Thompson began exploring organic philosophies. Ever since then, the goal at Wegraakbosch has been to farm in a way that supports and promotes this beautiful natural ecosystem. Fourth generation farmer Michi Kröger says that they use traditional farming techniques because they are committed to treading lightly on the earth. It is all interconnected here – the pigs clear out the brambles for new fields which are transformed into lush pastures. This is when the cows step in with their grazing and manure, while the chickens will happily gobble up grasshoppers and other insects to keep the system in balance. The dairy still uses 800 year-old processes of hand milking and making cheese in a copper cauldron warmed by a wood-burning fire.
One of Michi’s passions is redefining what farming is. She says, ‘the way I see it, the soil is the most important part of our farm. If you are sustaining that micro-biome, it makes a huge difference.’ She feels that one needs to ‘look to the past as well as to the future to meet any challenges and create solutions.’ Equally crucial is the farm’s location in a critical water-catchment area: supplying water to Polokwane and all the way down to Kruger Park. Michi says that if they were to do conventional farming, using pesticides and fertilizers, this would ultimately end up in the water, adding, ‘this was one of the deciding factors in the decision to farm like we do.’
This organic, slow-food farm attracts city-dwellers visiting the countryside and stopping in to enjoy the rustic farm setting, the peaceful lifestyle, the slow-food ethos and a Ploughman’s platter under the wisteria. You can also see the process of cheesemaking with Francisco Huo who has had more than 32 years’ experience of this specialised process, or go on a farm tour with Gloria Mashaba in the morning when the cows come in from their pastures. You can even learn how to take their seasonal produce from the field to your fork with flavourful dishes created by Laaiksfood. While you are at Wegraakbosch, stock up on the jams, cheeses and chorizo you would need for a picnic in the area and as festive season gifts for family and friends. There is also a maple tree nursery on site if you want to take a little piece of the mountain with you when you go back home.
Michi & Ray Kröger and the dedicated team from Wegraakbosch Organic Farm and Dairy are inextricably linked to the ecosystem 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... a treat for the tastebuds and for the soul.
At Wegraakbosch Farm:
Book a Dairy Tour at 10.00 am.
Order a Ploughman’s platter to enjoy under the Wisteria.
Check out Facebook for more information about A Farm to Table Cooking Experience.
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. Closed on Christmas & New Year. Call: 072 361 0664 or 072 370 1886.