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‘This means I’m giving my children opportunities’

The home-made cream cheese, milk, cream and butter from Wouter Rabie’s farm in the Nonna valley, is quite literally a labour of love.

Labour – hard, hard work – is essential in producing even a small amount of Jacolien Rabie’s cheese or butter. But she does it with love, because the income she generates from selling her products at the Pure Boland Market each month, is what’s paying for her two school-going sons’ extracurricular activities.

“That notion that you shouldn’t make a rich corporate man richer if you can buy local and support normal families – that’s true for us. This means I’m giving my children opportunities.”

About a year ago Jacolien and her husband received the news that a large milk producer would not be buying the milk from their farm anymore. An extensive search for a new buyer yielded no immediate results, and they were forced to look for a way of adding value to the 1 000 litres of milk their herd produced every day.

Although a buyer showed up only one week before the end of their existing contract, Jacolien’s search did lead her across a cheese recipe in Landbouweekblad. An initial test in her own kitchen quickly evolved into a steady supply of home-made birthday presents. And then a family member put her in contact with Tharina Jonker, founder of the Pure Boland Market.

“I absolutely LOVE the vibe and the interaction with the crowds streaming through the Groenstoor,” Jacolien says.

Her sons, FD and Weum, both get their turn to help out at the Groenstoor, in return for a generous helping of pocket money. They are the sixth generation Rabies on the farm. The boys have started their own fruit and vegetable project and supply their mother with ingredients for her cheeses.

Jacolien's stall at the Pure Boland Market.
Jacolien’s stall at the Pure Boland Market.

Getting it done

The night before the market, each member of the family would do their bit behind the separator and pasteuriser as about 200 litres of milk have to be prepared.

“I searched far and wide for a home separator and eventually Dairy Dynamics imported one for me. Then John Kendall from Jenny’s Clotted Cream in Robertson had to teach me how to operate it as it came without instructions. It has many different parts and putting it together is all about precision, otherwise the product isn’t what it should be.”

It takes about 10 litres of milk to produce 2 litres of cream. Separating the cream entails constantly pouring whole milk into the separator and making sure that you never run out of containers for the run-off liquid. It’s labour-intensive.

The pasteuriser requires its fair share of labour too. The constant supply of raw milk is done by hand. The vast amounts of hot water used, is saved up for later. Nothing goes to waste.

Jacolien sells pasteurised milk, fresh from the farm, at every Pure Boland Market, as well as chocolate and strawberry-flavoured milk. She sells fresh cream on occasion, but always has home-made cream cheese in different varieties such as sundried tomato and basil, green fig, jalapeno, or black pepper.

Customers can place orders for unusual varieties of cream cheese, and Jacolien only sells butter when it’s pre-ordered.

In the meantime, she enjoys the Groenstoor as much as her customers enjoy her products. “I always try to support fellow traders where I can. They are the nicest, nicest people. To me the Groenstoor is an absolutely wonderful place!”

• For more information about the Pure Boland Market, click here.

Separating the cream from the rest of the milk is a labour-intensive process.
Separating the cream from the rest of the milk is a labour-intensive process.
Jacolien loves experimenting with different ingredients.
Jacolien loves experimenting with different ingredients.
Butter (left) and cream cheese (right) in the making.
Butter (left) and cream cheese (right) in the making.
Jacolien and Blommetjie, a special member of the herd on the farm.
Jacolien and Blommetjie, a special member of the herd on the farm.
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