13 April, 2012

Spekboom: Plants and Country Eats for Grahamstownians

Started in 2007, Spekboom Nursery and Country Kitchen (Spekboom in short) has been providing plants for the Grahamstown community. Owned and managed by strong-willed women, Spekboom is a family partnership between Jenny, Louise and Natalie Bowker, and Kerry Barrow, their in-law.

The nursery has been operational for the full four years and it produces a variety of plants and seeds. These include annual plants, perennial plants, shrubs, trees and culinary herbs. The ‘Country Kitchen’ part of the business applies as it sells other food that is made outside of town but distinctly South African. An example is the shop’s coffee which is sourced from Port-Elizabeth.

For first time business owners, the four owners have aspirations to grow Spekboom beyond what it is currently. “Our vision started with selling plants and trees but it came to a point where we realised that we needed to sell other things that our market needs,” says Bowker. Spekboom now, also sells country meat provided by local butcheries from Eastern-Cape such as kudu, venison, nori, wasabi and country chicken. They also sell some non-frozen food such as rice and the sushi kit. African crafts also puts an artistic flair to the business as it also sells arty-blankets, wire trees, wire bags, wire plants and cerami ornaments.  It also offers chemical garden-solutions such as the fungi-sites, a form of pesticide.


Understandable for a little business of its size, Spekboom only manages to employ two people; one tending for the nursery and the other to the sales. All workers are on permanent employment. “We have unskilled (personnel) when it comes to the kitchen and semi-skilled (personnel) when it comes to botany, especially horticulture, landscaping as well as agriculture,” Bowker explains. But, by the looks of the place, it is easy to mistaken the landscaping and d├ęcor for a professional hand!

Community Engagement

“Spekboom has a history and it is well-known here in Grahamstown”, says Bowker. Though small, the business caters for a variety of customers, including, local, those out of town and tourists. It also cares about the people within its community. “We donate trees to churches like the Cathedrall, and to the members of the Horticulture Society,” says Bowker. Spekboom gives ten percent discounts on plants to the elderly and even assists in township tending gardens.

Something special

Although the business has not won any awards yet, every year Spekboom attends the Flower Festival Show at Rhodes University, at the Botanical Gardens. Taking place every year in between the 29th to the 30th of October, it is at this festival where Spekboom showcases those plants and flowers that are a highlight of their year. Jenny Bowker is one of the committee members running the Flower Festival show, dealing specifically with sponsorship, food and entertainment.

The promise

By the looks of things, Spekboom promises to be a household name when it comes to all things ‘plant, country-food and crafty’. Having appeared in Grocott’s Mail with compliments for its good work, and the local retailer Pick n Pay, recommending their services and offering, it can only be to the top from here.

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