By: Tebogo Mokwena
Janine Honiball business started off as a hobby. But it soon became a fully-fledged business when she realised that more and more people were looking for an alternative method of seasoning food. Honiball replaces colourants, flavourants and preservatives. Today La Vie Herbs employs 11 people and supplies herbs to Shoprite and Checkers across the country. Honiball told Vutivi News that she grew up on a farm near Bothaville in the Free State where her father planted maize. Her business and farm are also located in the Free State near Ventersburg.
It supplies various types of herbs, living herbs, salad onions, chives, spinach and celery. All her employees have received agricultural training. “The business was started in 2018, and I invested my savings to start La Vie Herbs,” she said. “I enjoy sharing my passion and knowledge with the employees and I am grateful that La Vie Herbs could create much-needed employment in a community where jobs are scarce.” Honiball’s farm is located next to the N1. This makes it easier for Shoprite’s fruit and vegetable, buying and distribution arm Freshmark, to collect three loads per week.
While Honiball acknowledges that she is fortunate to have distribution deals, it is not always easygoing. “One of the most persistent challenges is the constant balance between supply and demand,” she told Vutivi News. “We need to plant the correct quantities in advance to meet the demand. Factors such as the weather also have a big impact on farming,” she added. But she is proud of what she has managed to achieve.
“La Vie Herb’s achievements include that it started out as a hobby and has grown to supply more than 5.2 tons of herbs per year to Shoprite and Checkers supermarkets, as well as created employment for 11 people, including seven previously-unemployed local women, who have all been upskilled after receiving agricultural training and education,” Honiball said. Her plan is to expand the business over the next few years. “We want to grow and supply herbs to more retailers,” she said.