This week’s newsletter comes from a game farm in Limpopo. I’m sitting deep in the bush listening to nothing other than the click of my fingers over the keyboard, deep still and bird song while my son sits deep in creative contemplation editing photos next to me.
When it comes to writing articles, this is generally the better way to go after visiting a farm. To stop and write in peace before I get back to the noise, constant interruption, ladder of issues and ruckus that is Organic Emporium in all its green heart and soul.
Sometimes when life gets all convoluted and the road ahead seems uncertain, digging deep involves just going back to basics.
Doing what it is you do best and focusing there.
The Bryanston food scene in this space for us is a quagmire of challenges and it’s time for me to just take some respite from the noise of it all and just do what it is I always did. That thing that made this road the one it has become.
Finding good farms, spending time with them, learning, passing that on to you and then connecting you to the produce that comes from them. There are so many absurdly exciting ones coming up and I need to get to them and get back to this. Just back on the road focusing on what matters most here, finding great farmers and getting their produce closer to Jozi plates.
So this trip was all about something utterly different to my last to Brennaissance. This trip took me into a different modus altogether. For those of you who have the time and inclination to read the articles, you’ll remember the last was about indigenous Boran beef and Brennaissance and why the breed of animal is important to the dialogue of sustainable beef farming and why this beef has been chosen for the store. To new subscribers, here is a link to that article here.
This trip was entirely different.
When I heard about an Irish breed of cattle producing A2 raw milk grazing in – wait for it – Limpopo vegetation, I was a touch astounded. After just focusing on the golden arc for me of indigenous breeds on African veldt – how on earth anybody was getting dairy off a wholly veldt reared small herd of celtic Dexters in Limpopo I wondered? I hadn’t prior heard of any great dairy coming out of Limpopo that met our criteria and couldn’t imagine great dairy coming out of this context to be honest.
Though, I considered that technically I am also an Irish cow in Africa so who am I to judge?
Then I tasted it and had a ‘time to drop everything and jump in the car’ urge.
It was that good. I hadn’t ever tasted Dexter milk prior to this, but this was off the charts good. Full bodied very sweet, very definitely vanilla and butterscotch toned milk that was too outstanding in taste to ignore. So off I went to follow this curious story and now I sit here deep in Limpopo bush having to write to you about what I found.
Meet Tori Raine Farm in this article here, details and photos from our visit yesterday.
We’ll be adding her plain 1 litre yoghurt to the milk from Thursday and it’s as good as the milk.
There are limited quantities available as this is a small herd not designed to produce volumes for price efficiency, it is going to cost more and we can’t bring the cost down by increasing volumes to make the transport more efficient. We might never want to. An interconnected grid of small farmers who don’t need to do volumes is pivotal to us carving out an alternative food system ultimately.
The grand plan is that once we have resolved our space constraints – our endless challenge for now – we can overcome the low volume, high transport conundrum by cutting out packaging.
We’ll then have it in fridges in the store in large urns and you can bring your own bottles and fill it there. Once we’re there, the pricing can come down. For now though, as with all these farms, we cannot choose volume based paradigms that compete with the pricing of conventional paradigms or free range models with volume. We have to pay for the size of the farm and the low output – low volume yet off the charts quality. Please see my eyes roll if you’re going to tell me this isn’t going to feed the world. I am not trying to feed the world, I’m at base 1 – trying to just great food from small farms accessible in the system for now.
See my article and photographs here – ‘Tori Raine’s Dexter A2 Milk’.
Other than that, store news. We have a range of new farms that I’ve found of late that will be coming to the store. The newsletters will introduce you to why I find these farms special and want their produce for the store. Delays are all about space constraints for now and not wanting to introduce the farm before I’m certain that there is a commitment to supply the store and not succumb to bully boy exclusivity clauses from other retailers that ask them not to supply us. A practice that is becoming a very real daily reality in this space.
So there are some new and exciting new farms coming to the store and I’ll be announcing them one by one once the supply details are secure and certain.
The great news is that this is the first time in 8 years that I have ever had the luxury of the specific challenge we have now. More farms than I have space for. We’re asked every day when the plans for the new space and eatery are finalised.
You know what I’m like, I can’t shut up when I have something exciting to tell you so you just have to trust that announcing the final location isn’t something I can do just yet.
Just trust that I’m looking for the best place that can meet everybody’s needs in our current context. What is best for the sustainability of Organic Emporium comes first and choosing interests who best understand the mandate of this business to be larger than a commercial venture is a paramount consideration.
The timing of unfolding is always immaculate and now isn’t the right time to announce where we’re at with those plans.
For those of you frustrated with the shut-down of the delivery service, I’m also working on talks with a partner to re-open that side of the business to you. It would again be premature to give more detail but when it seems like progress is slow, I just ask you to trust that I’m always working behind the scenes to find the best way forward for Organic Emporium, taking your needs into account as much as ours and all based primarily on the farmers.
Pushing a solution before the right time has become one of my largest lessons and I know now when to hold back and rather to hold out for what is right for us. Most surprisingly I’ve even learnt when to speak and when to shut up. Never thought that day would come either, miracles abound.
That often requires being patient and trusting a greater process that has a different perfect time for immaculate unfolding than what it is I think we need, often.
With no further ado, let me end off.
Please try Jan’s new lamb sausages. That farm is just an endless joy at the moment. Your response to the heritage chickens delights not only me but this humble farmer himself endlessly.
At the moment, it has been most a reality that the chickens don’t meet the shelves as they are generally all sold by pre-bookings on a waiting list but there is more than enough space on that farm to sell more so that you aren’t all nervously pre-booking.
The lamb coming from the same farm is equally another joy. For those of you who prefer non Karoo lamb, you’re starting to love these luscious cuts and this is coming off the same mixed small farm.
The sausages come in two recipes. The one I made up using a balance of organic spices that always just work and bring what I find important to a sausage, a good balance of spice, fat, salt and sweet that must complement the ‘lamb’ taste.
The second recipe is Jan’s, an Aussie recipe that is altogether different. Where mine has cumin, sweet paprika and coriander as the key spice notes, the Aussie one is a more sundried tomato based creation, both are stupid delicious in different ways. Neither have any GM ingredients, starch, soy, wheat or any other such nonsense.
Please keep a look out for new vegetables in the fridges from a new local permaculture joy we visited last week, hoping to bring you more details of this gem of a project soon.
Time to hit the road, say goodbye to this peace and head home. I’ll see you in-store.
Keep feedback coming.
Stay nourished and chat soon,