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 drums), Aubrey Blaauw, Joseph Pickard (just vis­i­ble be­hind the speaker) and Con­nie Pickard on lead gui­tar. The self-taught mu­si­cians have been play­ing to­gether for more than 10 years and of­ten per­forms at par­ties and wed­dings. Call Con­nie on 076 164 2955 to book them for an event.

ABOVE Riëtte Bryant and her hus­band, Jeremy, own the al­mond and guest farm Kruis­te­mentvlei, where the mar­ket has been held for the past eight years. The Bryants fol­low per­ma­cul­ture prin­ci­ples, make com­post and worm com­post, and use a dry com­post­ing toi­let sys­tem (a nov­elty for some mar­ket­go­ers). Riëtte is kept busy on mar­ket day and no longer has a stand of her own, but she does make time to shop.

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 orders on­line. thetea­spe­cial­ The Tea Spe­cial­ists 079 096 6216 ABOVE Ghea Frans from Citrus­dal, the neigh­bour­ing town beyond Pieke­nier­skloof Pass, at Bos­berg Or­ganic Meat & Bil­tong’s ta­ble, of­fer­ing springbok meat in ev­ery form you can imag­ine. “You’d have to search high and low to find bet­ter bil­tong,” she en­thuses. bos­ber­gor­gan­icmeat­bil­ Bos­berg Or­ganic Meat and Bil­tong

ABOVE Vers­feld Pass with its dozens of switch­backs of­fers a mag­nif­i­cent view of the Swart­land Val­ley, cur­rently bur­dened heav­ily by a se­ri­ous drought. In the dis­tance, at the foot of the moun­tain, lies the town of Piket­berg. LEFT Eric and Michelle Havenga of the wa­ter-bot­tling com­pany De Berge of­ten stop by at the mar­ket with their daugh­ters, El­iz­a­beth and Chaya (right).

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