When Tabby Robertshaw and Alex Chouler returned from London thirteen years ago, it was with a dream to begin a small bee keeping business and a productive veggie garden. It became a blueprint for how the world can live better.

We travelled to Stanford in Overberg to their small sustainable farm, Goodluck Homestead. At Goodluck, they aim to have a closed loop system, a farming practice that recycles all nutrients and organic matter material back to the soil that it was grown in. This week, we joined the duo as they made a compost heap before Tabby showed us how to make a zero-waste cake.

“We’ve tried to keep everything as local as possible. Most of my veggie production goes to nearby restaurants and markets,” explains Tabby, “to me, it is important to know where you food comes from, to know how it’s farmed, and to know what you’re eating is ethically sourced and naturally farmed.”

While working in the culinary industry as a chef, Tabby was exposed to just how much food is wasted. As a result, she decided that she would only work in a kitchen again if it was her own business, and that she did! Tabby ran her own farm-to-fork restaurant for eight years and puts the experience to use as a supplier.

Today, she specialises in growing unique vegetables that aren’t found in traditional grocery stores. She works alongside numerous chefs as they plan a menu for the season which Tabby has the privilege of growing the produce for. By doing so, Tabby ensures that the process produces as minimal waste as possible. In her typically practical way, farmer Robertshaw has a failsafe model for making compost.

Ask which words this zero-waste gardener lives by and she’ll tell you to even eat the weeds.

Here is Tabby’s Nettle Hot Milk Sponge Cake recipe:

Preparation Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 25 – 30 minutes

Serves: Make 1 two-layer cake


  • 300ml (250 g) castor sugar
  • 500ml (280 g) Snowflake cake flour
  • 15ml baking powder
  • 1ml salt
  • 250ml milk
  • 100g butter
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 1  quantity butter icing
  • 4  extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups fresh stinging nettles 


  1. Beat eggs and sugar together until light and creamy.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to egg mixture and fold in lightly until well combined.
  3. Place the clean stinging nettles in a blender.
  4. Heat milk and butter in a small, heavy-based saucepan. Do not boil; stir until butter is melted. Remove from heat and pour over stinging nettles and blend till smooth, then add essence.
  5. Add milk & nettle mixture to cake mixture and mix well. Spoon mixture into two greased 20 c round cake pans.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 °C for 25 – 30 minutes. Leave in pans for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Sandwich cake layers with half the icing. Use remaining icing to ice top of cake.

To this maverick chef, her partner and farm manager Alex Chouler and to their son Thando, this life is about not taking more than you need to be happy and comfortable.

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