Vegetables in abundance at Damara Mopane Lodge
A view of from one of the bungalows at Damara Mopane Lodge. Each of the 60 chalets has its very own vegetable garden, creating a farm-like ambience. Photos: Gondwana Collection
While Namibia and its people are trying to navigate these interesting times that the world finds itself in, the lusciously green gardens at Damara Mopane Lodge have not gone into lockdown and are instead still fully operational. And without any guests for whom to prepare delicious meals using combinations of plump and rich vegetables and fruits, the team has quickly thought of an alternative to ensure that the delectable produce can be enjoyed, nonetheless.
The total of 63 gardens at Damara Mopane Lodge (excluding their collection of fruit trees), are possibly every avid gardeners’ dream. From tomatoes, cauliflowers, broccoli and pumpkins to bananas, strawberries and sweet melons; there is enough to let anyone’s taste buds tingle at the sight of these luscious patches of green. Yet, this also presents a laborious task for the gardeners, who besides tending to the individual gardens in front of each cottage-style chalet, also often have to deal with unwelcome visitors. While baboons are usually a concern, the good rains and sufficient food sources now in the bush, have kept them at bay. Instead, birds now seem to be the ones to cause the most damage and significant thought has gone into various tactics to ward off the gardens.
With only 15 people remaining on the lodge due to the lockdown, manager Henk van Blerk and his team have started to distribute the produce to other locations, including the Etosha Safari Collection properties, as well as Palmwag Lodge and Camp. Within the last few weeks, a remarkable 90 percent of the harvest was sold (and partially donated) to the local grocery store in Khorixas, who themselves are struggling to receive fresh produce from their usual suppliers due to the nation-wide lockdown. This has encompassed daily produce and on a recent dispatch, the delivery yielded an astonishing 109 heads of lettuce, over 20kg of eggplant, 27 packets of broccoli, nearly 14 kg of green peppers as well as significant amounts of Kohlrabi, beetroot and sweetcorn.
While Henk also shared that he had tried to provide produce to various old age homes for example in Otjiwarongo, the current circumstances and the difficulties in obtaining permits have posed a significant challenge. By the time the said permits are obtained, most of the current harvest is already spoiled.
In ‘normal’ times, a whole team of gardeners is looking after the gardens at Damara Mopane Lodge. Photo: Ron Swilling
Despite the current circumstances at least part of the organically grown greens and fruits are not going to waste and are instead being enjoyed by fellow Namibians. The team at Damara Mopane Lodge has most certainly risen to the unique challenges and countered them by remaining true to the culture and essence that is intrinsic to our Gondwana. Through their commitment, they have proven that within these times it is indeed possible to be #apartbuttogether in providing for those around us.