The Village Pantry is situated in Pretoria’s plush suburb of Waterkloof and it’s here that the well heeled rub shoulders with diplomats in South Africa’s capital city. The small neighbourhood store is the city’s first entirely devoted to the supply of locally sourced organic foods and produce. The store, the brainchild of Micha Landmann, business man and returnee emigré to South Africa, opened in November last year and has become a meeting place for all those whose food source is of concern.
“When I arrived in Pretoria at the beginning of last year, I searched the city for a source of raw cow’s milk for my morning coffee,” Micha explains.
“There was no local outlet other than going direct to a farmer. So I decided that if I was going to be able to live the lifestyle I wanted in the city and country I had chosen to settle in, I would have to source these products myself and also provide good food to others here in Waterkloof,” he said.
At the core of the store’s philosophy is locally sourced organic or natural produce – so all within a 30 km radius of Waterkloof (carbon footprint) and at least the same distance away from major arterial roads (minimum toxic environments). This is easier said than done. A steady and regular supply of locally produced and organic foods – meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables – does not come as readily as one would hope.
“Local farmers and producers are just not geared up for a more natural way of growing and producing produce,” Micha explains. “We have a lot of education to do,” he says.
A South African with German roots, Micha studied in Germany, and gained work experience in Asia and throughout Europe. He is Managing Director of the Southern African Development Agency (SADEA Ltd) based in Pretoria.
“While I love the investment side of business, I have discovered how important the organic produce story is to me. Our success is going to depend on the success of our local suppliers, quality of produce, customer engagement and nutritional education,” he says.
“What we are doing with the Village Pantry and seeing the responsiveness of the public to our concept is hugely satisfying. It has catalysed the creation of a community and loyal following in a way I never imagined possible,” he adds.
Assisting him in the shop is former Chef Gretha van Aswegen, who is a natural foodie of note, being an Ambassador of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and whose passion is to promote sustainable agriculture as well as wellness and the benefits of eating organically.
While visiting the shop, she made me the Village Pantry’s legendary (or will become in time) panini. This well to do sandwich is slathered with homemade pesto, organic Gouda cheese and Parma Ham, and rounded off with the multicoloured Heirloom tomatoes from the Sunshine Farms on the Apies River, north of Pretoria.