Finding solace in gardening never crossed Leshoto Thooe’s mind until she decided to get her hands dirty. To relax from her budding career as an electrical engineer, the 34-year-old spends her downtime cooking and gardening.
The engineer has manged to combine her loves for food and gardening and she proudly shares this with her friends and followers on social media. Her Instagram (At Home With Lesh) is Thooe’s outlet, where she posts recipes and food secrets using her home grown vegetables and fruit.
When Thooe thinks back on her childhood, growing up in the village of Doornspruit, 146 kilometres outside of Polokwane in Limpopo, she says she never would’ve imagined that she would find her solace in home gardening.
“My dad was an avid gardener and I grew up weeding his garden. I absolutely hated it! I could not understand why I just couldn’t go play with my friends, instead I had to sell two rand bunches of spinach to his customers in the village,” she says.
Today the home gardener grows an array of vegetables including onions, eggplants, peppers and shares “farm to table”–style recipes on social media pages.
“Little did I know that I would grow to fall in love with gardening, planting my own vegetables and actually wanting to own a farm one day. I think he really instilled something in me and I didn’t even realize it at the time,” she reminisces.
Thooe’s cooking inspiration is her mother Rose. Growing up she would pick and choose meals she was keen to prepare from her mother’s massive file of recipes. “As a young child I was a very picky eater. I can imagine my mom never thought I would love to cook as much as I do,” she says.
Thooe’s fondest memories of the kitchen are filled with mischief. She jokingly remembers stealing her mother’s scones out of the buckets she would prepare for guests at family events. “Growing up, my first love was baking, and my mom would let me try out new recipes, under her supervision of course. She taught me how to cook when I was still in primary school.”
The home cook believes merging her loves for cooking and gardening has helped her navigate her jobs as an engineer, wife and mother. “I’ve realized that doing things that I love keep me sane. Quality time with my family is one of the many things that I really enjoy, just like my vegetable garden. Having things to do that you are passionate about – it’s like an escape,” she says.
She adds that those looking to make a success in the food industry should bank on the little achievements and always celebrate the small victories. “People are actually inspired by what I am doing. For me food is something that I love, and I am happy and passionate to share my ideas with people.”
Thooe spends her off days gardening with her 5-year-old son and husband. She has dreams of owning a farm one day. “I’m really thinking big! I wouldn’t even mind owning a couple of Brahman cows and running a deli,” she says.