Terra Madre on Table Mountain

Terra Madre Day is celebrated on 10 December every year.  The worldwide Terra Madre network is working to create an alternative model of food production and consumption, in line with Slow Food’s philosophy of good, clean and fair: good for our palate, clean for humans, animals and the environment, and fair for producers and consumer. Launched by Slow Food in 2004, this global project unites food communities from 160 countries who share a vision for food production rooted in local economies and with respect for the environment, traditional knowledge, biological diversity and taste.

Terra Madre Day is an opportunity for the entire Slow Food network to celebrate local food and promote sustainable production and consumption to their communities and local decision makers. Thousands of actions in all corners of the world highlight our united vision and the diversity we are striving to maintain.

terra madre day postcard

As we had planned a BioBlitz on top of  Table Mountain the day before (9 Dec), it seemed a perfect occasion for a Terra Madre picnic.  During a Bioblitz, members of the public and scientists work together to survey a natural area – seeking, identifying and recording as many species as possible in a single day. Photographs are taken and loaded onto the recently launched iSpot portal, an interactive website where sharing of observations and identifications across the broad spectrum of biodiversity is encouraged.

table mountain res.

We climbed up the steep side of the mountain past traditional homesteads, gorgeous dogs and grinning children to explore the top.  Tucked into the rocks were these bright red Freesia laxa.

freesia laxa.res

Unfortunately, the top of the plateau is pretty well grazed so we were dissappointed that there were not many flowers. We were delighted by the beautiful Nguni cattle though, in particular this calf – could be the symbol of iSpot! Photo coutesy of Dawie Scholtz.

iSpot Nguni calves Table Mountain D. ScholtzRS.res

In one area we came across a copse of indigenous trees that looked as if they had been planted. There was nothing anywhere around them. Very odd. Including this very big Cussonia.


As usual (where there are cows) it was the rocky places which had the best plants. Interesting to find this rock fig clinging on.

ficus ingens.res

We stopped at the cliff edge next to the waterfall to eat our lunch. The views were wonderful across the Mngeni river valley.

Terra Madre TM Dec 2012.res. JPG

We shared a feast of handmade foccacia and feta, organic carrots and potatoes, just picked grilled courgettes with chickpeas and garden fresh herbs and spring onions. Fabulous!

table mountain terra madre.res

On the cliff face, this little Pavetta was flowering happily.

Pavetta res

We came across the indigenous Hypericum aethiopicum. The exotic one has become invasive now. There was evidence of other invasives — lantana, bugweed, ageratum. What a pity, I’m sure this must have been a botanical paradise in the past.

Hypericum aethiopicum.res

The mist rolled in as we finished our picnic and it was a little frightening as were were not sure where the edge was, or if we were on the right path back. Visibility was very poor and I flapped.  Everyone got down safely though and in the end it was a great celebration of biodiversity – in plants, insects, animals, friends and food.

picnc on table mountain.res

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Bridget Ringdahl says:

    Ah that was really an adventurous fun day especially when the clouds came down… and the whole lot of us miraculously never toppled off the table! Ps loved the olive bread, please post the recipe!


  2. Tshego Leeuw says:

    Hello St Gabriel, are these the Pearl Gates….. *dreaming*


  3. Penny Rees says:

    I just love it – so sorry I couldnt be with you! One day I will climb that Sacred Mountain Mkambathini


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