Welcome to Day One of Nature’s Gifts – an African blog advent calendar. I hope you are ready to ‘dig deep’ as we guide you in creating a few ‘living gifts’ found in nature. Enjoy as we get you planning your Festive Season Garden. If you are all about the wildlife and want a fast track to our wildlife story for today then please click here.
No matter where you find yourself this Festive Season, one thing is for sure: food, family, and connection will likely be at the centre of it all. And, if you are one of the lucky ones who love to cook, and who gets to produce a meal that the whole family will gather around, you’ll probably be thinking about what to you need to prepare for your table already.
At Londolozi, we celebrate our Festive Season on the 24th of December each year with a feast at each of our five camps. Our team of chefs put their heart and soul into this meal as they prepare a host of Londolozi favourites for our guests to enjoy on an invariably balmy December evening in the wilderness.
The one thing that gives me great pleasure, year after year, is seeing how much fresh produce gets used from our community gardens for this feast. The Londolozi Growers Co-op (of which I am a proud member!) prepares all year round to plant, nurture, grow and harvest a wide variety of produce for the kitchen to use. This forms a pivotal part of the Londolozi permaculture principles where we remain close to as many of our food sources as we can.
And so, as we begin preparations for our big feast, I wanted to share a few of our tried and trusted gardening principles that may help you to prepare this year.
Check Your Recipes For The Herbs You Need
As a cook, I know all too well what it’s like to read a recipe and realise you don’t have all the ingredients you need. Fresh herbs can often make or break a dish and so having ample amounts of all the wonderful, aromatic herbs at hand mean that you can be extra-abundant with your flavours this year. Our first prize is to have all the herbs we need already growing gloriously in our kitchen gardens (and luckily we have Debbie Kane-Berman, the wife of our Managing Director and beloved mother figure to all of the staff here) who tends our herb gardens and grows seedling all year round to make sure that each garden is well stocked when the time comes!
Bring Nature To Your Drinks Trolly
It’s no secret that we place a fair amount of value on a good festive cocktail. What would a good meal be without something spicy, fresh, and aromatic to get the festivities going? And so, just as you remember to stock your gardens with ample herbage to cook with, remember to include some fresh mint, sweet basil, classic rosemary, and even a sprig or two of lavender on your drinks trolley to liven up any cocktail.
Add A Bit Of Extra Joy With Edible Flowers
There is no better time than the Festive Season to find a few more ways to bring joy to the world. And nothing brings me more joy than delivering a fresh salad or dessert to a table of friends and family topped with nature’s gifts – edible flowers. Their happy colours add something extra to the plate and always bring a smile to every guest – especially if you are asked to take a dish to add to the table. One of my favourite flowers to use is the humble Nasturtium. Their bright, sunny colours truly are so joyful and they are incredibly easy to grow and delicious to eat.
Remember Nature If You’re Stuck For A Gift
Sometimes we can over-complicate the season of gift-giving. We can search for months for the perfect gift for someone when all we need to do is turn to nature for inspiration. One of my favorite gifts to give (and to receive) is a beautiful pot of herbs to either leave on my kitchen counter or to pop into my garden. It really is the gift that keeps on giving – and growing.
No matter if you are the person hosting a big gathering or bringing something to add to the table, remember to look to nature for inspiration, flavour, colour and gifts this festive season!
If you're thinking of giving the gift that keeps on giving - and growing - we've created some gift tags to go along side them.
Add a touch of Nature to your gifts with these Londolozi Botanical Gift Tags. Click here to download and save this document and print it out. Cut along the dotted line, punch a hole in the top of the tag and thred a ribbon through.
"We may think we are nurturing our garden, but of course our garden is nurturing us" ~ Jenny Uglow
Lesson from the Wild ~ Ranger Barry Bath
Reflection is something that I feel is necessary to assess the choices that we make, or have made in the past, and the outcome it has produced. Spending time in nature allows me ample opportunities to do just this and what better choice to reflect on than the one that brought me to a life in the African bushveld. As part of my personal growth I strive for constantly learning something new; be it about myself, the ecosystem I live in, or simply something that piques my interest. So what has nature taught me? It has taught me about the principle of “just enough”.
Ecosystems exist in a state of balance and harmony. Sure, there may be shifts in this balance but ultimately Mother Nature has a way of finding a new balance, and quickly. Trees will grow to a height that reflects the water and nutrients that are available to them. Predators will catch just enough prey to satisfy their energy demands. There is little to no overindulgence or overconsumption.
Material possessions don’t bring with them the happiness that we often associate them with. The more is better approach has been replaced with the simpler the better. The simple act of sitting in nature admiring the vista that is the bush or spending time with elephants gives me far more satisfaction than the possessions I used to clutter my days with. Being in nature is just enough for me.