Riversands Farm Village

The New Hope Rescue Centre offers rides on rescued ponies at Riversands Farm Village.

The New Hope Rescue Centre offers rides on rescued ponies at Riversands Farm Village.

Once upon a time, particularly on weekends, people in Johannesburg came from far and near to sample Granny LeMay’s home-made scrumptious chicken pies.

Today her farm stall north of Johannesburg has gone, replaced by Riversands Farm Village, 10ha of rolling countryside where stalls display handmade leather boots, delicious home-made food, hand-sewn dresses, tops and hats, beautifully crafted woodwork, bags, beads, baubles and babywear.

“It’s a genuinely authentic experience,” says Steve Harris, who owns and runs the market. “We’ve only been going a year, but now we’re utterly irreplaceable. Look around you – there are people from all walks of life.”

Beautifully crafted woodwork make excellent gifts.

Beautifully crafted woodwork make excellent gifts.

Don’t expect an upmarket, pretentious feel. Riversands is one of those places to visit in Gauteng where you can experience the simple, good things in life. This is both a visitor-and-family friendly destination where you come to shop and eat, and where you bring the kids to play and run in the meadows. Little ones can try their hands at all kinds of kiddie-craft, or at the treetop adventures in the forest. Or what about a pony ride on a rescue pony from the New Hope Rescue Centre?

Couples walk their dogs, families push prams, friends meet and chat, and stallholders exchange greetings while the smells of freshly baked bread, crisp bacon and home-made ginger beer fill the air.

This is where you can experience and indulge in wholesome things to do in Gauteng, in beautiful, natural surrounds and without breaking the piggy bank.

Steve is right – there’s a relaxed, authentic atmosphere where the stress and speed of the city is quite forgotten. 

These handmade leather boots can be bought at the market.

These handmade leather boots can be bought at the market.

At the edge of the farm is an old farmhouse, almost a replica of the original Liliesleaf Farm in the Johannesburg suburb of Rivonia where senior members of the ANC were arrested by the apartheid government in 1963. Indeed, those historic moments were recaptured here at Riversands when scenes from the movie, starring Idris Elba, were shot here.

There’s loads of free parking at the village and on weekend afternoons you can enjoy craft beer at Art in a Glass while you listen to live local music.

And the chicken pies? The on-site bakery is due to open any day, and once again, that famous pie, now rechristened “the Village Pie”, will be yet another reason to visit this unique spot.