Given the glitz and extravagance of Sun City, the rooftop of The Palace hotel is an unlikely place of a veggie garden, but that's exactly what it is.
Executive Chef Hanroe Erasmus
With a keen interest in sustainability, nutrition and adding extraordinary flavours to his dishes, Executive Chef Hanroe Erasmus is growing his own produce. But, these are not ordinary vegetables typically found in local supermarkets; nor are they grown in a typical garden either.
The crops are all grown organically, so there is no use of fertilisers or pesticides, and the flourishing plants growing neatly in rows are all heirloom vegetables which are more nutritious. Erasmus was inspired to create the garden from his travels during which he discovered an array of herbs and vegetables that are not commonly found in supermarkets in South Africa. The greenhouse structure was erected in August 2018 and by November, he was already harvesting his first crop.
The veggies and herbs are used in The Palace’s high end eateries – The Grill Room and Plume. “When our guests dine in our restaurants, they are promised unique tastes and flavours that they perhaps have never experienced before,” says Erasmus, explaining that his long term thinking is to change Plume’s menu seasonally, using herbs and vegetables from the garden to reflect the season.
He has over 22 varieties of tomatoes and 14 types of chilies, amongst a vibrant array of vegetables, ranging from Chiaggia beetroot; Romanesco broccoli and Black palm kale to Purple kohlrabi; China rose radish; Knezovich pumpkin; Yellow Swiss chard; Delgado black Mexican bean, and Thai white brinjal, amongst many others.
In line with Sun City’s focus on sustainability and water saving, Erasmus has installed an efficient system for watering his crops. The system uses mist sprays which go off three times per day and features drip irrigation so that no water is wasted.
Having grown up on a farm, Erasmus has natural green fingers and revels at working amongst his crops. For the moment, he tends to the garden on his off days and he is also upskilling some members of staff who have shown an interest in the vegetable garden.
“I am keen to share my love of gardening and growing with people who are interested in learning. I am slowly teaching them about maintaining the garden. You have to have a genuine interest in it in order for the vegetation to thrive. This is not something that you can force on people,” he says.
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