Eateries opt to grow their own
While saving money, restaurants are creating jobs by producing their own vegetables
IT HAS become a fast-growing trend for restaurants to grow vegetable crops, mostly in their own backyards, that are destined for their own dining tables.
And owners of such establishments go to great lengths to ensure that their crops are completely organic and no chemicals are added, for the well-being of all and sundry.
One such restaurant that goes to great lengths to ensure healthy dining is Bonaterra Café set in the middle of an Assegai nursery, in Hillcrest.
Maxwell Mkhwanazi is the nursery manager who is tasked with growing veggies for the establishment, which has former Proteas pace bowler Shaun Pollock and his family as regular patrons.
Mkhwanazi said catering for well-known personalities and others wanting to eat healthy is what they do best.
“Our motto is to serve customers with organic produce that is healthy and wholesome,” he said.
Apart from the vegetables, they also grow herbs in their garden.
“Gardening and horticulture run through my veins. I like to get my hands dirty.
“To watch seeds slowly turning into green leaves which are eventually harvested for meal time, the delicious end products are what makes me proud,” he said.
“When diners shower our chef with praise for having prepared a delicious dish, I’m also filled with pride because I had a hand in satisfying the customer,” he said.
Mkhwanazi said running a food establishment meant that a gardener like himself had to ensure a continuous supply of stock for the kitchen.
Mkhwanazi said he was assisted by a team of 10 who helped to grow herbs, fruit, veggies, including celery, six types of lettuce, spinach, rocket and other seasonal plants.
He recommended the use of chicken compost for healthy results and he avoided using harmful fertilisers which many farmers used to grow their produce.
Often, Mkhwanazi is required to advise customers regarding their gardening queries.
“There is a lot of work involved behind producing a successful crop, but people are not mindful of the effort required. They think a magical wand is waved to reap a good harvest,” Mkhwanazi said. Malawian-born gardener Gift Mkundiza, 29, who has been tilling the soil alongside Mkhwanazi, said working in the garden had ensured there was always food on his family’s dinner table.
When he arrived in the country few years ago, he lived with his two friends in a single room and with no food to eat.
But when his friend told him about a job opening at the nursery he jumped to the opportunity.
“This was the chance to make money to feed my family back home” and he said he appreciated the farming skills he learnt from Mkhwanazi from working at the nursery during the past year.
Gift Mkundiza,tony Livingstone and Joseph Kachingwe tilling the vegetable garden at the nursery in Hillcrest.