With the first summer season since Overstrand Hermanus was designated a Creative City of Gastronomy fast approaching, we now have a golden UNESCO opportunity to showcase all the wonderful reasons why our region was chosen as the first gastronomic city in Africa.

Key to the UNESCO success was the Overstand’s focus on sustainable development and conservation. But the origin and quality of our food also played a deciding role. As the application noted, the Overstrand “is considered a top food destination, not because it has the top restaurants but because of the authenticity of its ingredients, which are largely sourced from within an 80 km radius all throughout the Overberg region, the agricultural heartland of South Africa. Foraging is what differentiates Hermanus from the truly big cities. Their entire food culture is based on sustainability and protecting the environment…”

Can you imagine all the wonderful stories that businesses can tell visitors that will bring to life what this designation really means in everyday life? Everyone loves a positive story and the Overstrand has plenty to tell.

Restaurants, guesthouses and hotels can talk about where they are sourcing their ingredients from, whether they are cheeses from Stanford, flowers from Baardskeerdersbos, wine from Agulhas, lamb from Tesselaarsdal or fish bought through Abalobi, a mobile phone app that supports local small-scale fishermen.

Those restaurants that forage for ingredients, as many of those on wine estates in the Hemel-en-Aarde do, have beautiful stories that explain how the terroir has influenced not just their wines but the outstanding dishes they create.

Taking the decision to source only local, hand-crafted ceramic crockery that is produced in Kleinmond, whether for home or business use, tells a rich story of how we can use functional art to enrich life’s daily rituals while providing meaningful employment in local communities.

Even those businesses that are not involved in farming, wine, hospitality or sustainability, especially those in the Central Business Districts of the Overstrand towns, can have a story to tell. Choosing to beautify your building and only planting indigenous species speaks to living within a floral kingdom with the highest biodiversity in the world. Visitors will take note, admire and comment on how beautiful our towns look.

In the end, we, as residents, are the story of the Overstrand. We are the reason why the Overstrand was chosen as a Creative City of Gastronomy. We have so many stories all around us. And we must share these with all our visitors. Bring on summer!

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