Alex Glenday and Jemma Pearce are the founders and the heartbeat of a new rejuvenating detox and yoga retreat, Forage to Feast. The foundation of their philosophy is that by connecting at its source, we deepen our appreciation of our food.
A handful of successful pop-up vegan dinners were the inspiration for this new challenge. The girls’ intention is not to convert everybody to a particular diet or lifestyle, but rather to spark an interest and to encourage people to explore and learn new ways of eating and preparing food. The core values they promote are simple: ‘natural’, ‘organic’ and ‘local.’
Alex is quick to say that this is not strictly a ‘yoga retreat’ or a ‘raw food’ retreat, but rather a combination of healthy eating and relaxation to support a gentle detox, as well as informative talks on urban farming (grow your own veggies) and delicious-sounding workshops on raw chocolate making (so much easier and more creative than you think – crushed cashew and honey praline anyone?) and raw cookies with almonds and chocolate.
The days begin with a cleansing and energizing green juice (a light, refreshing power cocktail, not a toxic-looking sludge) followed by the first yoga class of the day in the courtyard. All activities are optional as the whole point of the retreat is to relax. For some that might mean yoga and meditation classes twice a day and long walks around the farm, for others it might mean lounging in one of the several hammocks reading a book, chilling out after a massage or taking a dip in the pool.
The highlight of each day is undoubtedly the meals. Although not classically trained chefs, Alex and Jemma prepare and serve innovative, gourmet vegetarian food. The attention to detail is astounding – not just in the meal planning (which has a strong focus on organic ingredients and proper food combinations) but also the beautiful and often quirky presentation. Breakfast for instance is served in a glass jar and is either layers of farm yoghurt, raw honey and cinnamon, or chia seeds and dates soaked in home-made almond milk.
Light lunches include a raw tapas buffet and caprese salad while a typical dinner starter is a crunchy, raw Asian veggie wrap. One particularly memorable dessert was a spicy chocolate mousse with banana ice cream – the twist being it’s all dairy free.
Favourite dishes were the roasted beetroot soup, kale chips (addictively full of crunch and flavour) and raw lemon cashew cheesecake – which disappeared from plates at an almost unseemly rate.
Accommodation is in the beautiful Guinevere Guest farm in Tulbagh, just under a leisurely two hour drive from Cape Town. Options range from a very spacious private room with an enormous bathroom and views over the Tulbagh valley from its balcony to, for those on a budget, a ‘dormitory’ style room (but no bunk beds!) The rooms are airy and quiet – perfect for an afternoon nap, with very comfortable beds and armchairs. I could have easily whiled away the weekend just in my room.
The Farmhouse is filled with original drawings and painting by Nicholas Esterhuizen – the owners’ son and a noted artist, and the big wooden dinner tables are dressed with local fynbos, proteas, and vintage jugs with lemon water. Everything looks as pretty as a picture.
Jemma and Alex are radiant ambassadors for the lifestyle they are promoting and it is their genuine hope to help further their guests’ journey to optimum wellness. There were a few hiccups – not surprising given that this was the inaugural retreat and the schedule had to be adjusted to accommodate an unexpected heat wave – but the girls worked tirelessly and cheerfully. Having chatted to them since, I am confident that their next retreat will meet the exceptionally high standards to which they aspire.
The Forage to Feast Detox Retreat provides a gentle space to relax and a big dollop of inspiration towards foraging for your own feast.
The next Forage to Feast Detox Retreat is scheduled for 7 to 9 February 2014 at Guinevere Guest Farm in Tulbagh.