A mouth-watering new business opened in Pilgrim’s Rest at the beginning of August at the premises of Pilgrim’s Place in Downtown. The proprietor, Dirk Swart and his wife are returning to the village after many years.
The building now known as Pilgrim’s Place was originally a residence but has been a general dealer since 1905 when it was leased by Giovanni (John) Beretta. The shop was bought by Christine Grove in the early 1970s when Pilgrim’s Rest was taken over by the then Transvaal Provincial Administration to be developed as a museum and a heritage site.
During the same period, Swart was appointed by Overvaal Resorts as the manager of the Royal Hotel. After a couple of years, he was transferred to other resorts and eventually left the company in 1995 to settle in Machadodorp.
There he started his own business producing traditional South African pickles, jams and other preserves such as piccalilli, pickled cucumbers, nastergal jam and prickly pear jam. He’s been supplying shops in the Kruger National Park, farm stalls and other outlets for many years. But this is the first time that he’ll be selling his products, together with other traditional farm stall produce, in his own business.
Swart obtains all the fruit and vegetables for his preserves directly from the farmers. All the other products in the shop such as dried fruit, rusks baked in an outside wood oven, traditional biscuits and caramels, are also sourced only from nearby farmers or home-based industries.
Many will remember Pilgrim’s Place as the original studio where visitors could have old-time photos taken and as a shop filled from floor to ceiling with historical collectibles and old-time memorabilia. After operating the business for over four decades Grove closed it down and retired to Pretoria a few years ago.