I picked up a copy of go! Platteland – Summer 2013/14 at the supermarket the other day and couldn’t wait to get home to read through it. From the cover alone, it seemed to speak to me about all kinds of topical and fascinating food content, with articles covering a vast range of lifestyle and business topics, including entrepreneurs, DIY, animals, gardening, food, towns and people. Glancing through the first few pages, I thought about the magazine’s slogan “The slow life is the good life” and wondered why we haven’t had a magazine like this before.
As I moved through the magazine, I was impressed with the variety and quality of the content. I loved the article on keeping chickens in your backyard. We always had chickens in the garden when I was growing up, mostly Rhode Island Reds. I remember that they were real characters, each with their own identity and endearing habits. This particular article brings with it all the tips needed to keep and raise them successfully. A related article also provides a blueprint on how to build your own mobile chicken hotel, with details on the cost and materials needed from A to Z.
The article on entrepreneur Ina Lessing, focusing on her amazing spirit and the preserves she has become famous for, is a delight. Ina shares great tips for any budding entrepreneur out there, with her personal recipe for success. This story is a lesson for everybody on how to do ordinary things with great energy, efficiency and quality, which all shine through in the final products you produce. It’s a story that’s not all filled with sugar and sweet things though. It’s a story of struggle and determination and eventual success. It’s a story that makes me think that it’s OK to stumble – as long as you get up, dust yourself off and carry on. Great inspiration for anyone running a business, or just living life.
In the gardening section, there’s a lovely article on herbs that covers: how to plan and plant a herb garden, the ultimate kitchen herbs, South African herbs, and lesser-known herbs. The article elaborates on the use of each herb and where and when it should be planted. Invaluable advice for anyone wanting a kitchen garden, this assists you in choosing the herbs that you use the most and allows you to plant them according to the space you have. There are also some great recipes for using the herbs you grow, such as baked brie with herbs, and lavender and toffee brownies. Yum!
The Karkloof market in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands is featured in the magazine and introduces a selection of stall holders and their wares. These are just ordinary people who are making homemade products and taking them to the market, with amazing success. Their products range from mustard and pickles to pasta, cheeses, breakfasts and more. I’d have to strictly limit the amount of money I’d take with me. As I look through these pictures of the food, I know it would be very hard to choose what to buy. I’d end up wanting a bit of everything to take home!
One of the food stories revolves around cooking with strawberries and includes some of the most delicious recipes, like one for strawberry and rose water tea cake, one for pickled strawberries, and another for buttermilk ice with roast strawberries. All incredibly mouth-watering, urging you to take to the kitchen to try them out at once, and reminding us to make good use of fruit when it’s in seasonal abundance. Again, such a useful and delicious piece of writing.
And these articles are just for starters. There are so many other practical and inspirational bits to discover, from making your own beer to buying a second-hand bakkie. From advice on moving from city living to the countryside and an introduction to new small farmers. You’ll find yourself wanting to know about things you never stopped to think about before, and encountering new perspectives on things you thought you already knew. There’s so much to think about on every one of the pages between the two covers.
Reflecting on it all, I wondered who had put this magazine together and decided to contact the people responsible for bringing this great new title to life.
The formidable team behind go! Platteland includes Johan van Zyl (former editor of VISI and a columnist for Die Burger) and Peter van Noord (previously the managing editor of the opinion magazine Insig and content editor of Weg). Both are seasoned journalists, translators and editors, and plattelanders to the core. They live in a tiny town that has no supermarket, police station or petrol station. Even so, they’re not new to the world of new publications: they were both members of the team that started garden and décor magazine Tuis in 2004, and Van Noord has been involved with Weg and WegSleep from inception.
published by Struik Lifestyle
Van Zyl and Van Noord describe the magazine as: “Down to earth and without pretensions: as good to look at as to read, with enough practical tips in-between to make life in – or a visit to – the countryside a pleasant reality, without putting you in a nostalgic bubble, far away from the realities of South Africa”. Sounds good to me. But Van Zyl, who grew up in Prince Albert in the Karoo and Vanrhynsdorp in Namaqaland, is quick to add that “Humour is part of the picture too, because things in the platteland seldom go according to those carefully constructed five-point plans”.
Van Noord, who grew up in Middelburg (when it was still a town, long before the advent of the mall), elaborates: “Platteland is a celebration of rural lifestyle and, especially, the people who live closer to the earth and who have already discovered the joy of a life away from the hustle and bustle. We write about the interesting characters that give towns (and their markets and bazaars) flavour – entrepreneurs who run their business from the tiniest village or farm, inspiring people making a real difference in their community, people who turn ruins into homes or come up with cunning plans to get by without
Eskom’s power cuts and price increases”.
The magazine has its origins in the global trend of urbanites that crave the peace and serenity of life outside the city limits. According to Lynette Harding, publisher of Media24’s Travel magazines, go! Platteland looks after the needs of the people who are part of this “silent revolution”. The magazine is packed with practical advice and tips, true stories of real people, and engaging photography. It’s also available in an Afrikaans edition called weg! Platteland.
We might still live a relatively urban lifestyle, but I love everything that this magazine stands for and wholeheartedly support the Platteland approach to food and life. I can’t wait for the second issue to make its appearance at the end of February 2014. In the meantime, visit their website or join the conversation on the go! Platteland Facebook page and see how many other people are starting to move from the unrelenting fast lane into the undisturbed slow life.