South Africa

Melissa de Billot

Melissa de Billot grew up in rural KwaZulu-Natal. She moved to Johannesburg in 2001 to pursue her career in architecture. Upon joining the Slow Food Johannesburg Convivium in 2014, she was immediately drawn to the Ark of Taste project, which triggered memories of her childhood traditional foods, and started researching them to find out what has happened to them. She is also the coordinator of the Rainbow Maize Presidium of South Africa and has started a seed bank for South African Ark of Taste products.

Zayaan Khan

Carlo Randall

Carlo Randall is a Sān Xoma Aob, a registered indigenous health practitioner by trade, and is known as a “bush doctor” in his community. He has also worked in academia, the government, and private commercial enterprises, and discovered that many so-called ethical practices do not actually protect indigenous knowledge systems against misrepresentation and misappropriation. He has traveled extensively around South Africa in search of indigenous plant remedies and foods, documenting and disseminating this knowledge and sharing it with his community before it becomes extinct. He advocates for the future of the First Peoples of Southern Africa’s indigenous communities, resources, and livelihoods. By hosting indigenous awareness workshops and interactive plant medicine workshops, and planting indigenous gardens, he is reviving the antenarrative through oral literacy.
Portfolio of Work | First People Indigenous

Judith Shopley

Judith grew up in a small town in South Africa with parents who grew organic vegetables in their yard. Good food was an important aspect of her upbringing, so it was natural for her to become interested in food security and the origins of food. She became a member of the Slow Food Johannesburg Convivium soon after it started in the early 2000s. It was an active convivium consisting mostly of consumers, and as her interest developed she later became a committee member. Her mantra has become “good, clean and fair food” and whenever she has the opportunity she talks passionately about Slow Food and the ramifications of fast food on our planet. She became actively involved in the Ark of Taste in 2017. In 2018 she had the privilege of attending Terre Madre as a representative of Slow Food South Africa.

Rosemary Sneyd
Rosemary Sneyd is a registered PGS organic farmer close to Johannesburg. She specializes in growing culinary herbs, with a special interest in herbs indigenous to Southern Africa. She is a Presidium farmer and coordinator for the endangered Rex Union Orange, and is part of a small team who have been instrumental in saving this orange from extinction. She is also a Rainbow Maize Presidium farmer and seed custodian. She grows a range of other South African Ark of Taste products and has a small flock of Venda chickens.

Saskia Van Oosterhout

Saskia van Oosterhout (PhD) is a botanist and agroecology researcher, based in Cape Town. She has worked on traditional farming systems across Africa, and in centers of origin in India, Nepal, and Mexico. She has worked for FAO, UNDP, and UNHCR. She has created community seed banks in Zimbabwe that have run since 1993 to the present despite political turmoil. She is passionate about seeds (with a strong focus on indigenous African grains), Slow Food, and farmers. She has been the director of three NGOs. She is on the board of the SA Agricultural Research Council and is chair of the Research committee.