Lady Bonin and I traveled to just outside Niewoudtville in the Karoo to visit the farms that are doing incredible work with Rooibos, a wonder plant used as medicine and sustenance for the Khoisan and in the community for hundreds of years. It is part of the Fynbos family which is completely unique and particular to the Western and Northern Cape.
Rooibos exists only in its biome, and cannot be cultivated elsewhere. It requires all the specific conditions, particular to this specific ecosystem to survive. It is magnificent with regards its flavours, but also its medicinal uses like aiding digestive healing, and easing birth pains. It also it has anti cancer properties, does not contain caffeine so it’s great for children, and it’s filled with a unique blend of essential amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
We went to visit this particular co-operative who source from 72 small-scale farms using biodynamic farming practices and wild-grown Rooibos and then send out the product from one central hub. This co-operative works to benefit the farms, farm-workers and local communities by empowering, introducing and increasing skill levels and ensuring a good and fair price is paid for their work.
The farms are biodynamic which means they do not prevent the environment interacting with the farm. They also make sure they take care of and preserve indigenous knowledge to ensure that the plants are able to thrive in properly nourished soil.
We were particularly interested in the wild Rooibos, cultivated from bushes, some of which were up to 50 years old. The farming of wild Rooibos is done using sustainable practices to ensure the plants can flourish and are not over picked through yearly crop rotation. It is small scale and all harvesting is done by hand by local and seasonal workers who spend their days out on the fields in the sun for a few weeks of the year en-masse. The entire process was fascinating and humbling to watch and seeing the laborious tasks for these tiny little twisps of leaves we take for granted, I was instilled with a new respect for this wonder tea.
Here is the video we made of our journey.