Tucked between the wonderfully wild and sprawling Delta Park (home of a weekend Park Run and also a mountain biker’s delight) and Jan Smuts Avenue you’ll find something quite unexpected – an urban farm.
The REEA foundation’s complex in Craighall Park is a magical series of gardens within which are built a cafe, art gallery and ceramics studio, a winery, the River Ranges horse riding school and a number of shops that include a charity store, bookshop and a furniture restoration studio.
The complex supports a care facility for adults living with mild mental disorders and epilepsy on this property first given to the Rand Epilepsy Employment Agency (REEA) by the Johannesburg City Council in the late 1920s. At the time medical treatment for a condition such as epilepsy was almost unheard of and people afflicted by this condition were thought to be unemployable.
Today the care home houses about 40 residents and also offers a day-care facility serving adults with autism. Close to 100 years old, some of the properties dotted across the farm have been declared heritage buildings.
This is a great weekend outing spot – with its rambling gardens and picturesque outdoor spaces, complete with hay bales, the Colourful Splendour nursery, a greenhouse where you can donate those orchids that never seem to bloom again and an impressive vegetable garden. When in season, you can buy vegetables from the gardens on Wednesday mornings between 09:00-11:00.
If you are travelling with kids they’ll get to roam the place and go horse riding or take a pony ride while on Saturday there’s a morning gardening club plus the kid-friendly Delta Café that serves highly recommended pizzas. The café will soon be opening a new deck that faces directly onto Delta Park (Delta Café is open daily Tue–Sun, and stays open until 20:00 on Thursdays and Fridays).
There’s also the C02 ceramics studio and art gallery and The Lemon Tree Garden venue ideal for kid’s parties with a superb garden.
Ditch the kids and you’ll get to taste the fruits of Gerakaris Family Wines, where a New Zealand trained winemaker is using grapes farmed in the Western Cape to make Chenin Blancs and Syrah (open Wed–Fri 12:00–17:00, Sat 10:00–15:00 and Sun 11:00–14:00).
The many projects and venues across the property, mostly in converted farm buildings, all sustain the Rand Epilepsy Employment Agency to ensure the organization can deliver much-needed care. While there are plenty of other reasons to visit, doing good while you enjoy a day out makes it all so much sweeter.