Chang­ing the way we think about restau­rants, eat­ing — and farm­ing too

Financial Mail - - LIFE - Gwynne Con­lyn

On the sur­face it’s all pic­ture-per­fect. We ar­rive on a late sum­mer Sun­day, the air still moist from the rain that fell the day be­fore. Bright­side, a farm on the out­skirts of Joburg, seems like some­thing out of a pas­toral idyll.

Owner Janet Di­ack wel­comes us open-armed. Whip­pet-slim, bronzed and eyes bright with zeal, she says: “This is a dream come true.”

We start our visit as she leads us down wind­ing gar­den paths, like a pied piper with good in­ten­tions. We me­an­der past a wildly en­thu­si­as­tic as­sort­ment of an­i­mals. Wig­gle-bot­tomed piglets frolic in glo­ri­ous mud along with chest­nut­munch­ing boars. There are sev­eral ado­les­cent pigs doz­ing in the shade of a van; an os­trich fol­lows us half-heart­edly through the poultry yard, where chick­ens of all ages, ducks and turkeys are hav­ing the day off, doz­ing in the sun or tak­ing a stroll. No en­clo­sures in sight.

But as Janet starts to chat on this pic­turesque am­ble, it im­me­di­ately be­comes clear that the fam­ily’s jour­ney to where they are to­day has been one of hard graft.

She and her hus­band Eric bought the prop­erty 26 years ago and have worked to cre­ate a sus­tain­able, or­ganic farm. It’s a labour of love which, de­spite all ap­pear­ances to the con­trary, was nei­ther quick nor easy.

Bright­side is not sim­ply a project to turn what was a tra­di­tional old Transvaal plot of land into an or­ganic show­piece for the 21st cen­tury; it ex­ists to pro­vide the best-qual­ity sea­sonal farm-to-ta­ble pro­duce — meat, fruit and veg­eta­bles — for the

Katy Har­ri­son

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