Up the moun­tain from Piket­berg not only waits a dif­fer­ent cli­mate, but also a de­light­ful mar­ket


In late au­tumn, the arid, drought­stricken Swart­land looks like an in­fi­nite sea of dust, but just wait un­til you turn off the N7 at Piket­berg and sur­ren­der to the lovely twists and turns of Vers­feld Pass. Fol­low the signs on the last Satur­day of ev­ery month (ex­cept De­cem­ber) to Jeremy and Riëtte Bryant’s ecofriendly farm Kruis­te­mentvlei. Even though the drought is just as se­vere on top of the moun­tain, about 440m above the brown val­ley floor, things look con­sid­er­ably greener up here, and the ap­ple and pear trees are heavy with fruit. On a clear day you can see all the way to Ta­ble Moun­tain and St He­lena Bay on the West Coast.

For the past eight years, the farm Kruis­te­mentvlei has been the place where lo­cal farm­ers and en­trepreneurs gather in the shade of the trees to sell prod­ucts that give new mean­ing to the la­bel “farm fresh”. With only a few ex­cep­tions, ev­ery per­son be­hind a ta­ble is the one who cul­ti­vated, made or baked the goods they’re sell­ing. Here, you’ll find su­per­fresh or­ganic al­monds and home-made al­mond but­ter with a touch of honey; pan­cakes; freshly baked sour­dough bread; pizza and indige­nous plants; pomegranates, prickly pears, pep­pers and chill­ies; quinces, granadil­las, cit­rus, cup­cakes, cakes and bis­cuits; old-fash­ioned brooms made of be­sem­bos; jew­ellery; wooden prod­ucts and fur­ni­ture; jam and other pre­served treats; boere­wors and bil­tong; all kinds of prod­ucts made of springbok meat; Chi­nese and In­dian snacks; veg­e­tar­ian curry; roost­erkoek and vetkoek; good cof­fee; sand­wiches; raw honey; olives and olive oil; and sec­ond-hand books. And then there is the bril­liant lo­cal band that takes care of the en­ter­tain­ment.

“This is a com­mu­nity mar­ket in the true sense of the word,” says Riëtte. “And it is aligned to the sus­tain­able sys­tems we’re try­ing to es­tab­lish on the farm, some­times with the help of young peo­ple from all over the world who ap­ply to learn and help out via the web­site work­” Per­ma­cul­ture, ver­mi­cul­ture, dry-com­post­ing toi­lets, com­post-heated wa­ter, com­mu­nity projects, youth de­vel­op­ment, a li­brary... and, once a month, a small, au­then­tic farmer’s mar­ket. • Take cash, since there are no cred­it­card fa­cil­i­ties. You can spend the week­end on the moun­tain – book at Kruis­te­mentvlei ( ksv­, Ta­ma­rak ( Ta­ma­rak Self-Cater­ing Ac­com­mo­da­tion), Re­treat Guest Farm ( re­treatguest­ or He­bron Es­tate ( he­bron­es­ ksv­ Piket-Bo-Berg Farm­ers Mar­ket jane.n.pater­ 022 914 5652 >

ABOVE The cheer­ful tunes at the mar­ket are sup­plied by a group of lo­cal mu­si­cians who call them­selves The Pickard Band, be­cause their mem­bers in­clude three Pickard broth­ers, all from Piket-Bo-Berg. From left is Cobus Pickard, Bradley Go­liath (on...

ABOVE At Mark and Char­maine Howard’s stand you can taste and buy all sorts of in­ter­est­ing teas. Hail­ing from the UK, they set­tled in Piket­berg in Oc­to­ber 2017 and opened The Tea Spe­cial­ists on Hoof Street. They also run a web­site al­low­ing you to place...

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