The Nanaga Farmstall, a popular stop-off on the N2 between Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth, stands out among farmstalls as a beacon of success.
Situated about 60km outside the Friendly City, the family-owned business has its roots in a one-woman operation.
Owner Leigh-Anne Mackenzie’s mother, Lynn, started off selling fresh pineapple juice, vegetables, pies and roosterkoek on the side of the road some 47 years ago.
Nanaga was born when her little business – a sideline to her husband’s dairy farming operations at the time – started booming and, today, still sells all of the original menu items.
The dairy farm is now managed by Leigh-Anne’s husband, Malcolm, and Nanaga’s ice cream is made using his milk.
“Leigh’s mom started with six pie recipes and would sell around 20 per day,” said manager Iain Withers, a Scotsman who has been with Nanaga since 2001.
“When I came on board, we were doing about 300 a day. Now we do up to 3 000.”
Withers said their pies, which are one of the farmstall’s most sought-after products, were all made from scratch on the premises.
“It’s all homemade, even the pastry, and we haven’t changed the recipe at all over the years.”
Withers said Nanaga’s consistency was a big part of its recipe for success. He also cited the stall’s support of local industry.
“We try and support local as much as possible. We have a butcher we’ve been using for almost 50 years as well as regional egg, cheese, fudge and jam suppliers.”
Withers emphasised the importance of community, noting that everyone pitched in to help when the farmstall was gutted by a fire in 2006. It reopened a mere three weeks and one day later.
Having outgrown the old store, Nanaga moved to larger premises about 1.5km down the road in 2009.
“The standing joke since we moved is that it’s no longer Nanaga Farmstall, but Nanaga Farm Mall,” quipped Withers. “People don’t expect it to be so big.”
The farmstall, which employs 50 people, attracts guests from all over the world and Withers admitted that they never knew how many cars and buses were going to pull in on any given day.
“In the 15 years I have been here, our focus has been on just doing everything well. We initially did it smaller scale, but concentrated on the standard we wanted to achieve.”
He said that Nanaga’s customers had guided them towards what they wanted and advised aspiring farmstall owners to take heed.
“It’s important to stick with what you believe in, but always listen to your customers and be willing to give new ideas a go.”
Caption: The history of the Nanaga Farmstall, a popular pitstop along the N2 between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown, is an inspirational story. Photo: Supplied