Imagine a world without refrigeration. In days gone by in Europe, meat, cheese and fish were salted to preserve them. However, the rancid taste could not be disguised, and so spices began playing an increasingly important role. Not only are spices of great historical value, but they still play a major role in the global food industry today. Interestingly, it was a lack of spices in Europe that shaped our modern world, and especially that of South Africa.

Owing to serious vitamin C deficiency on their long sea journeys to the East, scurvy-ridden sailors needed a refreshment post en route. In 1652, the Dutch East India Company founded a small settlement at Table Bay on the southern tip of Africa. Jan van Riebeeck, the first commander, had the task of establishing a garden to provide fresh produce to passing ships, allowing sailors to recuperate.

The newly acquired Spice Garden at Babylonstoren Farm tells the story of the spice trade with the East, and exhibits the main spices that were traded on these long sea journeys. Included are various aromatic plants used in food, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, greater galangal, ginger and turmeric. We also have an aquarium housing freshwater fish from the East. The Spice Garden at Babylonstoren Farm is situated adjacent to the Healing Garden near the Greenhouse.