In the Cederberg, as with many of the wild places, there is much that we can learn from the land.
The best way to truly experience the essence of a place is to immerse yourself. Meet the people, eat local food and partake of the knowledge held in the land.
We (The Storytellers) count the plants, the animals, the water, the rocks, the soil, the climate and the land's first people as our teachers. We have much to learn (many lifetimes' worth), but there is also much we can share and teach. Beyond ourselves as teachers are the residents of the local communities, with their knowledge. We are privileged to be able to facilitate their teaching too, by opening our space to (and helping to market) the classes and experiences they offer.
We offer a number of courses and experiences - some of them taking a few hours, others requiring a weekend or a week. We also welcome people who want to stay here longer, connecting with the land, working in the gardens, and immersing more deeply into what is being taught. The coursework is presented at verhaal.kraal, our landscape education centre. (Some taught by us, some by other local residents and teachers, occasionally by experts from further afield).
For those who'd rather simply relax and experience, we facilitate some cultural entertainment at verhaal.kraal. Guests may order and experience traditional meals with a modern, fynbos-infused twist, and occasionally, be entertained with storytelling, music and dance. These experiences are presented by residents of the local communities, although JP also likes to prepare and serve a meal every now and then.
What follows is a list of the courses on offer. Check back regularly, as we do add things.
For the past eight years and counting, Tracy spends much of her free time learning about (and from) the plants around us. Her knowledge has been assimilated from an eclectic mix of books, peer-reviewed scientific journals, involvement in formal academic research, working with local experts from the resident communities, personal experimentation, feedback she receives in her Fynbos Apothecary, and time spent quietly learning from the plants themselves.
These are the kind of topics we cover. Each of these can be booked as an experience on its own (typically two hours) or as a full-day or half-day combination workshop.
We are also very fortunate to work with a group of local plant knowledge holders. We call our collective plant community the Fynbos Mengsels. Some members of the 'Mengsels group also offer their walks and lessons in plant knowledge (presented at and bookable through verhaal.kraal). Sometimes we all present lessons together.
If you are interested, keep an eye on our calendar for planned events, or contact us to plan a half-day, full day or weekend for your group.
Nine years ago, we moved into our wooden cabin in the wild, from the suburbs of Johannesburg and realised that everything we put on our bodies or through our washing would go directly into our soil and onto our plants. It needed to be toxin free. But toxin free, purchased from the shops, is expensive and doesn't always keep its promises. So we started making things. Soaps, shampoo, bath products, face creams, conditioner, facial spritzers, detergent for dishes, laundry and surfaces, deodorant, make-up, children's face paint and yes, hand sanitiser. We even acquired our own alembic potstill, with which JP makes essential oil and botanical distillates from plants in our garden.
Becoming more interested in the medicinal plants, we started infusing them into these recipes for their health-giving properties. We discovered that many plants worked particularly well in balms, massage oils and creams. Soon we realised that they could be infused and added into food, thus opening up a world of experimentation and invention that includes brandies, vinegars, herbal salts, preserves, smoothie powders and beverage mixes.
Tracy and the Fynbos Mengsels also like to experiment with plants, making food dishes, preserves, salad oils, chutneys, vinegars and whatever else inspires them.
Workshops at verhaal.kraal can take the form of a demonstration, or a hands-on experience where you make something yourself. These are the classes offered:
Traditional meals with a modern, fynbos-infused twist. These are offered as pop-up, set menu restaurant experiences on specific calendar dates, but can be specially organised for groups of ten or more. These events are run by the FynbosMengsels community group, assisted by ourselves.
Please note that ALL face-to-face workshops and experiences at The Storytellers are currently on hold due to Coronavirus and Lockdown Level 4. We will shortly be introducing online workshops - watch this space.