The greater Oaklands community recently celebrated two years of exceptional hard work with the beginning of a new annual tradition.
Caroline Bruce and her siblings, Kathy Romer-Lee, Annie Barnard and Simon Tully are the driving force behind the successful Oaklands Country Manor, which has won numerous awards for its incredible cuisine and warm hospitality. Set on the beautiful escarpment of Van Reenen’s Pass, the inaugural Oaklands Harvest Festival was a celebration of the various philosophies that underpin the estate today.
Oaklands is renowned for its energetic, hardworking and motivated staff members who chef, maintain the estate, train and look after horses, create and tend to gardens, grow and harvest food and care for guests at the manor. The majority of the staff at Oaklands live in the village community nearby.
A labour of love
In 2015, we invited members of the Oaklands Village community to attend a five-day permaculture workshop. After the workshop the participants, who were mostly grandmothers and gogos, began to transform their own gardens using permaculture principles. This included designing permanent vegetable beds, strengthening fences, using mulch to protect the soil, increasing food production, companion planting and seed saving. This initiative has empowered the community, enabling them to eat healthy food, free from pesticides and poisons, and supply the country manor with the best fresh ingredients.
Last month we held our first-ever harvest festival, with a unique Oakland’s twist. At the heart of it, the festival was a celebration of the community’s persistent hard work and dedication over the past two years.
To help spruce up the village ahead of the festival, Plascon kindly donated some paint to the community. The result was an explosion of creativity inside and outside all of the houses.
From a series of playful races and games to a food competition that included traditional dishes, such as steamed bread, imfino and chakalaka, it was a day of joyful inclusivity. The smallest children ran heats and the oldest mkhulus joined in on the egg and spoon races, before feasting on all of the delicious dishes that were contributed by the community. Prizes for the games winners, best dishes, most beautiful gardens and homes were awarded and the families celebrated, receiving fruit trees, tools, home maintenance kits and parcels of goodies.
A diverse community
The festival proved that this village community extends well beyond the village boundaries, embracing different races, cultures and generations. The event transcended old paradigms and is a thriving example of the how rural South Africa can become integrated and sustainable.
The event wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donations from Pick n Pay, Twk? Plascon and Oaklands Country Manor. The Oaklands Village looks forward to hosting an annual Harvest Festival that inspires, encourages and celebrates sustainability and communal creativity in the future.