Owner and Founder of The Harvest Table
Catherine Clark is the owner and founder of The Harvest Table, which is a family run business based in KwaZulu-Natal. The company provides health and nutritional products across South Africa. Catherine also educates clients on the importance of including these products in their daily lives.
“My journey started twenty years ago when I realised that what I put into my body was what I got out,” she explained. “Together with diet, exercise, keeping stress at bay, laughing every day and having people in my life that I love and respect, keeps me healthy.”
Catherine’s story started when she was in matric and started struggling with feeling really tired all the time to the extent that she could not complete a school day. “This was a really tough time for myself and my family as I was driven to do well at school. Despite numerous visits to doctors and specialists, no cause could be found. After been told that it was all in my mind, I started to research and looked for alternative treatments,” explained Catherine.
Her research led to Dulcie Krige and the raw food diet in which she saw potential benefits. “After starting this eating programme, I improved daily. However, 18 months later, towards the end of my second year at university, I discovered an enlarged lymph node in my neck which led to the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.” Catherine believes that this diagnosis had been the cause of her tiredness and that the diet that she had followed helped her to recover quickly.
She explained, “After a course of radiation, I was completely cured but I was left with the effects on my thyroid and had intense muscle scarring. However, I believe that the lymphoma was a gift from God and allowed me to determine what was important in my life as well as to question what legacy I wanted to leave behind. I have explored and researched the topic of healthy food and now that I am married with two children, I wish to educate them as well.”
Whole and nutritional products
Catherine discovered that many of the products that are beneficial to one’s health were not available in South Africa in the form that she required them, which included no additives, preservatives or gluten. “We initially started making our own bone broth, which is an important part of many diets across the world. Then we discovered organic powered products and that is where our Harvest Table story began. We wanted to bring people along with us on this journey and the harvest table symbolises something that we can bring friends around and celebrate these ‘first fruits’. We have beautiful products that are whole and nutritional.”
A beautiful expression
In reflecting on her role as a woman in business, Catherine says that women have unique challenges. “Women do have more roles and responsibilities – school pickups, swimming galas, ballet lessons and extra Afrikaans … However, I have not let being a woman hold me back in any way. I have learnt to accept that this is my journey and that I can play it out in the way I want to. I would like to go to bed at night knowing that I have served my business and community and done well by my children.”
That The Harvest Table is able to employ women fulltime is for Catherine, “a beautiful expression of her story.” Through employing women, she believes that it is possible to shift their lives by providing a salary and educating them on the importance of health and wellness for themselves and their families’ benefit. However, says Catherine, achieving a work life balance is probably her biggest challenge. Her journey has required her to undertake all the roles in the company from marketing to finance.
“Every day I ask God for wisdom. I have also had to learn to say no along the way to strike a balance where necessary. I do ensure that I carve out time in my day for my children and we include them in everything that we do, including business decisions.”
The best version of ourselves
As an entrepreneur, Catherine says that she always has ideas running through her mind but needs to remain focused on ensuring that there is enough stock in the factory. “My number one priority is our customers and the daily feedback that I get from them is really important to me and keeps me motivated. We believe that our products can change people’s lives; we believe that diet is pivotal in terms of good health and wellness, which is the foundation of everything that we do.”
Catherine commented that the company has grown substantially over the past year. In particular, Covid 19 has sparked an interest in health and wellness, which has positively impacted the growth of The Harvest Table. Before lockdown, the company had five employees and now has close to 50, having grown ten to twelve times.
“This pandemic has interrupted our ability to be the best version of ourselves, but we cannot allow uncertainty, anxiety and stress to consume us. We need to take charge of our lives by being more intentional about coping with our current reality and create a life to look forward to,” says Catherine.
“I have learnt to be brave; I have a strong team of women around me and I have learnt to walk to my own beat. While we may not have much control over the things around us, the good news is that we can still take care of ourselves. Taking control of your life will not only improve your overall wellness but will also give you a greater sense of hope for the future,” she concluded.