Dear Diary

Umtentweni, KZN South Coast, Tuesday 13 July 2021

The national road is closed at Hibberdene and there is no way to get to Umtentweni from the north. The national road is closed at Trafalgar and there is no way to get to Umtentweni from the south. All the shops and supermarkets have been closed for two days and the business forum has instructed all companies to close or work from home. 

Wednesday 14 July,

We are a fresh produce household and I am a ‘veggie’ and my small stash of fresh produce and limp vegetables are showing they are well past the ‘use by’ date. Replenishments would ordinarily have been bought yesterday.  The general food stash is good… there is enough to get by, but nothing fresh and yummy.

There is no bread to be bought and no flour to bake!  I mean, really, which working girl is equipped to go from modern convenience to ‘do-it-yourself’, settler-style, straight-off-the-ship cooking? 

And – as that guy Murphy would have it – my veggie tunnel beds had attracted a bug and I was still treating the soil. I have nothing in the ground. Bad timing!

It’s 9am and I am off to do some urban foraging. Two roadblocks later, my first stop is our local Indian takeaway and the owner’s car is outside…  he must be open and I stop in. Two kilograms of flour, two packets of yeast, five avos and a pack of fresh roti  later, with some intel that  the small trading store just down the road is open…

With a case of water, three bunches of spinach and 20 tomatoes added to my booty, I return home, rather pleased with the rewards of my urban foraging.

Then, unexpectedly, I get a call from a local veggie grower, who doesn’t have much in the way of veggies but lots of eggs. I agree to drive to her farm to get the eggs; just before I set off she calls back and lets me know that she will barter some of her veggie stash for a copy of the Winter Edition of Odyssey. Best deal ever!

One mag and an Odyssey Tote for three bunches of spinach, heaps of brinjals and leeks. My spinach stock is in excess… so I trade some spinach and brinjals for onions.

Delighted with my purchases, I begin to activate my yeast to make some bread… just then the Community WhatsApp announces that a farmer is selling bananas at our local whale deck! By the end of the day I have found everything I need, or so I thought. Windfall!  We had given chickens to a family the day before and they now deliver a bag of cabbage, cauliflower and green beans. O my happy belly!

Foraging and bartering… I am enjoying every moment and meeting the most amazing humans on my travels.  It sure beats the bustle of supermarket aisles and parking lots.

Thursday 15 July

Some of the supermarkets and my favourite health shop are open for a few hours today and health shop here I come – frozen spinach and cauliflower bread and mango cubes are calling! As I drive I am planning a morning mango smoothie and sumptuous meals with farm fresh produce foraged with a little effort at a fraction of retail price.
One of the small-scale growers has veggie seedlings for me. I am absolutely thrilled and I remind myself that first prize is being self-sufficient and that local is truly ‘lekker’. Goodness, kindness and compassion abound, with everyone sharing, trading and looking out for one another.

“We love it when you buy local” is our slogan and I love buying local … not just from the markets, the artisan bakers and local eco-savvy suppliers, but rather from the small-scale farmer, the ‘little’ guy who has no Facebook page or Instagram. Produce from the ground into my basket and eggs from the hen hutch onto the table.

The joy of urban foraging is unrivalled and the interaction with the beautiful humans along the way – priceless. Al love Ed.