Working in the beautiful Kamberg Valley at Glengarry Holiday Farms as well as for a fellow St John’s D.S.G. Old Girl, Abbey Martin (Class of 2012) has the best of both worlds. Whether she’s managing the Tea Garden, cooking up a storm in the kitchen or building relationships with the guests, Abbey considers herself one of the lucky ones to live in such a beautiful part of the world, as well as do something she loves.
Abbey qualified as a chef in 2013. Food has always been one of her passions and to turn it into a living was a dream come true for her. She got the opportunity to work under the indomitable Jackie Cameron (another fellow St John’s D.S.G. Old Girl!) and cook for some famous people, but most importantly she got to show people her love through food.
After she found the fast-paced life in the kitchen getting a bit much, she decided to take a break from the hospitality industry and pursue yet another love, farming! She began to manage and run her family Dairy Farm. She made and sold delicious dairy products and ascertained her certificates in cheese making. For her, this was a wonderful time to explore the world of farming; from birthing calves at 3am in her hamster onesie, to making 300l of milk into a couple rounds of cheese that would only be tasted 6 months later. Whilst she was on the farm she also had the time to work in outreach in the local community, which was and still is very close to her heart.
When she felt that she had got the farm up and growing, she decided to move on to the third of her major passions – romance and people! She started managing a wedding venue as the onsite Wedding Planner and Coordinator. When Covid-19 struck in 2020, her heart once again told her it was time to move on, which brought her full circle to Glengarry where she already feels like part of the family!
What did you love most about St John’s D.S.G?
The thing I loved most about St Johns D.S.G. was that it really was a “small school with big heart”. When deciding on schools it was one of the biggest selling points for me. I loved that all the girls knew each other. I loved that I felt immediately comfortable and part of the greater St John’s D.S.G. family. For me, this sense of community stretched from the amazing Miss Joyce Dlomo (how does she carry wine glasses and tea on her head?!) and Mr Big Boy Mkhize in the Kitchen to the teeny Grade RRs in the Junior School.
What does success mean to you and how did St John’s D.S.G. equip you for life after school?
Success to me means doing something you love, and something you’re excited to do every day. Success is the feeling of pride you get at the end of each day knowing in some way you have helped someone else, or added something valuable to another person’s day. Success can be in the small moments, like for me when I completed my first wedding cake, or when I looked at my niece after teaching her how to cook an egg and she was as happy as can be.
What advice do you have for our current girls?
To the girls I want to say what I wish someone had said to me that it’s ok not to know for sure what you want to do after school, and that it’s ok if you have a few different dreams! You have time, and you have choices. If St John’s D.S.G. gives you anything, it’s choices! So, lean on what the school gives you, lean into your dreams and if you need a hand, think about all the Old Girls before you and how there is a whole network of us who would be more than happy to help you. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s what makes you happy and sets your heart alight.