Pigs at Brightside Farm

Brightside Farm: Where Joburg’s Best Food Comes From

Every once in a while, my work affords me an opportunity to do something really incredible that I would never be able to do otherwise and makes me feel grateful to be alive. Visiting Brightside Farm was one such opportunity.

Janet Diack with baby wild boarJanet Diack, owner and operator of Brightside Farm, holds up a baby wild boar.

Brightside Farm is in Magaliesburg, about an hour away from Joburg. The farm is owned by the Diack family. James Diack is a chef and runs four Joburg restaurants: Coobs in Parkhurst, the National in Parktown North (which I wrote about briefly here), Il Contadino in Parktown North, and the Federal in Melville (which is currently closed but opening again shortly with a new name and concept). James’ mother, Janet, runs Brightside Farm, which supplies James’ restaurants with the majority of their food.

Brightside Farm is paradise, for people and for animals. Yes, many of these animals eventually become food in a restaurant. But before that happens, I can’t imagine a better place on earth for an animal to spend its life. (Incidentally, Janet is a vegetarian.)

Pigs at Brightside FarmFree-range pigs at Brightside Farm.

Brightside is also paradise for plants. There are all kinds of interesting vegetables and herbs and edible flowers growing there, and they are more or less allowed to grow wherever and however they want without any chemicals.

Garden at BrightsideOne of the rambling gardens at Brightside.

Janet, James, and the rest of their family are committed to producing and selling food sustainably. Il Contadino, James’ newest restaurant, bills itself as 100% sustainable, meaning all the food served there is either produced on Brightside Farm or another farm deemed to be sustainable.

One of the coolest things about this farm, at least to me, is that it’s not hippy-dippy or new-agey and doesn’t slap labels on itself like “organic” or “fair trade” or whatever else. Brightside Farm isn’t trying to save the world. It’s a family producing and serving food in the best, most honest way they know how.

James Diack speaking to guests at Brightside FarmJames speaking to guests at Brightside Farm.

Janet and Stoepie the dogJanet and her miniature pomeranian, Stoepie, who likes to wave at the camera with his tongue half out.

An Afternoon at Brightside Farm

I visited the farm with a bunch of journalists and social media people. We toured the farm for an hour or two, visiting with all the animals, then sampled some canapés, then had lunch together at a big long table in the yard. It was a day that didn’t suck.

I took about 5000 photos of the animals but I’ve done my best to narrow them down (somewhat).

Wild boar at Brightside farmA wild boar in a field.

Rooster at Brightside FarmRooster.

Hen at Brightside FarmRooster’s wife.

Ostrich at BrightsideOstrich.

Ducklings at Brightside FarmDucklings.

Geese at Brightside FarmGeese.

Baby boar drinking milkI die. Who even ARE you, Baby Boar? Apparently its mother didn’t have enough milk and that’s why it’s being bottle-fed.

I took a lot fewer photos when it came time to eat. It’s damn near impossible to eat canapés, sip champagne, and take photos at the same time. (Life is hard.)

But I will say this: Food tastes better when you know where it comes from.

Serving canapés at Brightside FarmLungi (left) and Lovemore (right) serve up the chow.

Rice balls served at BrightsideThese were my favorite canapés. I confess I did not listen carefully to their description, but they’re balls of rice with bacon and other delicious things inside.

Dessert at Brightside FarmDessert: Rosewater, pomegranate, and ricotta cheesecake. Somehow I missed photographing all the courses in between.

That was lunch at Brightside Farm. Unfortunately it’s not open to the public so I can’t tell you to go there. But you can do the next-best thing: Eat at one of James’ restaurants. I myself have not even eaten at Coobs or Il Contadino yet but I intend to change that soon.

Go eat some good food.

My meal at Brightside Farm was complimentary. Opinions expressed are mine.

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