Eater­ies opt to grow their own

While sav­ing money, restau­rants are cre­at­ing jobs by pro­duc­ing their own veg­eta­bles

Sunday Tribune - - NEWS - NKULULEKO NENE

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.

PIC­TURES: NKULULEKO NENE

Gift Mkun­diza,tony Liv­ing­stone and Joseph Kach­ingwe till­ing the veg­etable gar­den at the nurs­ery in Hill­crest.

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