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Words: Emily Shaw Images: Supplied

We’re living in inconceivable times and it’s easy to feel completely overwhelmed by everything we need to remember, do and plan to stay safe and sane. Helping ourselves and others is key to living in solidarity and to keeping spirits high, but this can be a little tricky given our lockdown status and isolation protocol…

By looking after our own health and focussing on pure, whole nutrition we’re not only protecting ourselves against infections but setting up a strong foundation for better health in the future and creating an excellent example for our kids. But that’s not all – by making the quality of our food a priority, we can also help support local small business through this crisis and well into a healthier, happier economy to come.

Farm-family Jen and Chris Mills have made a life of this way of thinking. After having her thyroid removed a few years ago, Jen’s interest and attention was focussed on keeping herself and her family in the best possible health and using food to do so. As a result, Cyrus Farms was born – a collective, pre-ordered farm produce shopping service with a brand-new deli that exists primarily to help in improving health – specifically for those who are immuno-compromised.

Cyrus – three years old in August this year – provides only organic fresh produce and pasture-raised meat. This means all sources of meat are raised humanely, with unrestricted access to sunlight, fresh air and space to roam as well as fed by nature as opposed to man-made supplements. The organic veg is grown by predominantly female farmers in the Henley-on-Klip area where the Mills live. The veg is grown specifically for Cyrus and is termed heirloom – meaning the seeds used to create each season have been passed down from the same seed source of the season before.

An interesting angle to the Cyrus menu is that of “keto” and low-carb eating. Convinced that by cutting out processed food and ingredients one can attain a greater level of wellbeing, Jen assists customers with taking on this lifestyle by giving them great tips as well as creating innovative, carb-friendly items. Some of these include bacon butter, keto nougat, low-carb mini pizzas and even chocolate chestnut spread.

The product list contains everything from meat – rump, sirloin, gluten-free pork bangers, lamb chops, lamb roast, wood-smoked bacon, pork chops and more – to their famous “chooks” and eggs. Pantry staples like sugar-free lime juice, honey on the comb, chia seeds as well as handmade butter and cheeses are just some of the items you’re able to preorder. Even placing your order feels more connected – every Monday a list of the meat available is sent out to a WhatsApp group and one can pick and choose one’s own package by placing a direct order through this medium.

The brand-new deli, which opened in Henley-on-Klip on Saturday, 21 March, has been created not only as a shopping experience, but as a community-centred space where people can discuss their health journeys and receive support from one another.

Cyrus Farms used to deliver to a central meeting point in Melville for all the Northern Suburb customers, but because of the lockdown will now only allow for pre-order and parking lot collection from their deli.

Jen urges South Africans to take this lockdown as an opportunity to get outside and get their hands dirty in the sun by planting their own seasonal veg in their yards or even in pots. To help, she’ll be giving the public tips on what to plant and when on the Cyrus Farms Facebook group as well as selling seeds through the preorder service.

In every disaster, crisis and time of trial, there will be important lesson to learn, retain and apply as we move forward. Perhaps one of those lessons could be for us to slow down, to marvel in the small joys of living, and to gratefully feed our healthy bodies the very best quality, affordable fuel we can, while ensuring we’re investing in our own people, our own land and together, our collective future.

Cyrus started from community – I handed trays of eggs from my chickens over the gate to people who lived in our road. A couple of months later, we were offering more than 90 products made of what we call ‘farmy goodness’.
Jennifer Mills, owner, Cyrus Farms

Experience it for yourself
Cyrus Farms
072 844 7498

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