If someone had told me five years ago that I would one day have a farm in South Africa, I probably would have laughed it off with a line from an old Willie Dixon blues song: “I look like a farmer, but I’m a lover.”
Yet somehow I went from keeping a handful of tomato plants on the windowsill of my apartment in Oslo to growing hundreds of heirloom tomatoes—Black Zebra, Green Sausage, Banana Legs, Wild Guess and more—on a farm in the Elgin Valley outside of Cape Town.
© John Kernick
As a food writer and TV host—I explore Scandinavian culinary traditions on my television show, Perfect Day—I’ve always made an effort to get closer to the source of my food. Beyond those windowsill tomatoes, I have a small plot of land in southern Norway, where I grow a few potatoes and peas and raise chickens. Three years ago, my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I traveled to Cape Town to research my second cookbook, Where Flavor Was Born. Before returning to Norway, we decided to rent a house during the South African summers (November through February) and start a project called the Garden of Elgin.