Category Archives: farms

Verdun

Verdun Estates

Verdun Estates is in character and tradition a family business.  The farm was acquired by Izak and Bertha Wolfaardt in 1918, it is one of the oldest farms in Prince Alfred’s Hamlet.  Started as a mixed farming venture as was the norm in this region, it has turned it’s focus to Stone Fruit, and specifically Nectarines, since the 1980’s.  It is noteworthy that the first Wolfaardt Nectarines graced the markets of the UK as early as 1924.  Over the years the tradition of complete family involvement was honoured, firstly by Piet Wolfaardt (2nd generation) and his wife Irene. Adrian Wolfaardt (3rd  generation) and his wife Lesley have recently retired from active farming, but still serve as Directors of the Company.

Currently, their children (4th generation) run the Company, Peter Wolfaardt is responsible for all the primary production and Georgina Hewitt is responsible for the Packing and Marketing as well as all the administration of the Company.

When Verdun became fully planted in the early 2000s, the company acquired Edenville farm in 2007 and Welverdiend farm in 2013 in order to expand their business. Renting Bordeaux Farm in since 2017 and Palmyra and Vredelus since 2020.

With the diversity in micro-climates between the different farms, Verdun Estates have managed to prolong their season.  They place great emphasis on varietal selections, and travel abroad to find unique varieties with exceptional flavours that deliver on shelf life, yields, fruit size and that can be farmed sustainably.  The Company has an aggressive orchard replacement program in place and strives to compete internationally as one of the industry leaders.
In 2017, as part of their Land Reform goals, Verdun became involved in a farming venture together with Raymond & Mary Koopstad, sole owners of the farm La Vouere, in Ceres. They, together with Verdun Estates formed the operating Company La Vouere Stonefruit(Pty)Ltd, of which Verdun holds the minority share. La Vouere has access to many of the new varieties available, as well as packing & established marketing channels through Verdun Estates.

To date 37.7 Ha of nectarines have been established, with the prospect of further growth.

Conservation is also high on the Company’s priority list. Despite abundant good quality water resources, special measures are taken to carefully schedule irrigation to protect this natural source.  Alternative, non-chemical plant protection options are continuously investigated. Energy efficiency and the protection of the bio-diversity of the land, are further priorities on the estate. 165 Hectares of Windhoek Sandstone Fynbos is still found on the mountainous areas on Verdun.

The management of Verdun Estates recognized the importance of a dedicated, skilled and committed labour force. Investments in training are made to ensure that their staff is adequately equipped.

Verdun Estates is also involved in various housing and day care projects – empowering their personnel to become home owners and providing safe and continuous care for the children of their workers.

Spera

Spera Farm (Pty) Ltd

Starting off as a small family-owned farm in 1830, Spera evolved from farming with livestock and ostriches to the production of deciduous fruit.  Their first Apricots for export were packed in 1948, followed by Plums in 1962. The farm has been under management of 4th and 5th generations Van der Merwes in the persons of Pieter van der Merwe (since 1980) and his son, Matthys (since 2010).  Big expansions were made since the 80’s and Mediterranean Figs – ideally suited to this area – were also introduced alongside the Plums and Apricots.

Spera Farm has a commitment to sustainable farming and the cultivation of excellent produce.  All of their fruit are packed on the farm. They believe in the optimization of their human resources, whilst also contributing to the social development of their workers and their children.  Social responsibility for them stretches from ensuring safe work and living conditions for their staff, to investing in training and skills development.

Gerrit Mclune (Supervisor) is just one of the success stories of these investments. Currently the farm sponsors three tertiary scholarships. The company’s dedication towards the community stretches even further. Community projects such as donations towards sports teams, musical and educational programs are upheld. They take care of their workers’ children through day care and a feeding programme for the toddlers as well as providing transport for the older children to nearby primary schools.

The Van der Merwe family strives to be worthy custodians of the land and environment entrusted to them and aims to keep the bio-diversity in the veld intact.  They take conservation very seriously and as from 2011 gradually moved towards biological pest control. Farming in an area where the annual rainfall is only 300mm, the maintenance of the river as a primary water source, coupled with optimum water usage procedures, ensure a future for the production of fruit on this farm.

Sonskyn Farms

Sonskyn Farms

Sonskyn (directly translated as Sunshine) lies on the beautiful R317 between Robertson and Bonnievale – known for the striking lanes of canna flowers in bright reds and yellow.  Historically Sonskyn Farms was a subdivision of the larger Goedemoed unit – the desolate farm of Simon Bekker bought in 1769 by Abraham le Roux.  After Le Roux, who was the first person to cultivate the land, the farm changed hands a few times before JT Rabie bought Sonskyn from J. Schoonwinkel after World War II (1946) for £16 200,00.  At that stage Sonskyn already produced over 200 tons of wine grapes.

The first addition to the Sonskyn unit was Goedemoed, bought by the sons of JT Rabie, Maree and Barend in 1983 for the cultivation of wine grapes and tomatoes for the local market.  These tomatoes were packed in the farm packhouse – a facility which later, as volumes increased, was converted into a state of the art export packhouse. Equipped with the latest technology, the Greefa SmartSort grading machine sets a new standard in the market optimizing capacity and precision; a robust machine with unparalleled reliability. The modern coldroom facility, adjacent to the packhouse, enables the Rabies to load containers directly from the farm to Cape Town Port.

In 1988, the Rabie brothers broadened their commodity range by planting Citrus for the export market. Stone Fruit was added to their export basket in 1991.

As the sons of Maree (Cobus and Wilhelm) and Barend (Koos) entered into the family trade, the business expanded even further with the acquisition of Middelplaas and Hermon in the Bonnievale region (2007).  The latest addition is Corona that was bought in 2014. The brothers and their sons are a formidable team; each with their own unique strengths and expertise.

The main water source of Sonskyn Farms is the Breede River.  This river originates from the snow-capped mountains surrounding the Ceres valley.  This river serves mainly as a winter water source, but also flows during the summer months when higher rainfall is measured.  During mid-summer, when water levels drop, Sonskyn relies on the Brandvlei dam that serves as a reservoir for the Breede River.

Roodehoogte

Roodehoogte

Roodehoogte Farm has been in the Marais Family for the past 45 years and is currently managed by the father and sons team, Braam, Charl, and Jasper Marais. Charl, being brought up in a fruit environment has inherited the passion of his father and is currently the third generation on the farm. Jasper’s role is to manage the packhouse with his engineering and manufacturing industry skills.

Located in the fruitful Breede Valley, just outside Robertson, this estate spans over 365 hectares of which 55 hectares are cultivated.  The farm is situated at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains where Roodehoogte’s main water source originates from.

Roodehoogte has a strong and clear vision to produce export quality fruit. Their fertile soils, also called the “soft, red Karoo soils”, with a high lime content combined with the right choice of rootstocks, contribute to their high sugars and good shelf-life of their Plums.

Plans to expand their packhouse to match their growth are planned for the near future.  Their dreams, however, are not built in isolation and they strive to be a major source of job creation for the local community.

Another main priority on the farm is the provision of safe and secure housing for all the farmworkers.  All houses are equipped with electricity, as well as freshwater tanks and solar panels for environmentally-friendly heating.  The management believes in good communication with their workers, and this feeling of community and open management is reinforced by monthly staff meetings.  Community development is very important to the owners of Roodehoogte and the rugby and cricket teams of the farm are passionately supported.

Môrelig Farm

Môrelig Farm

Môrelig Farm has been in the Bourbon-Leftley family since 1992 when Billy Bourbon-Leftley fell in love with this beautiful farm nestled in the picturesque Wemmershoek valley.  Of the 180 hectares, only 40 hectares are cultivated – the rest being wilderness, river and mountainous area.  Originally a wine farm, the estate was transformed into a fruit farm in 1993-1994.  Billy’s son, William, took over the management of the farm in 1995 and has been farming since.  Môrelig forms part of the Bourbon-Leftley family business. William’s brother and sister share his passion for farming and are managing their other property, Loewenstein.

The micro-climate in this area is unbelievably suited for the production of fruit.  While the summers are relatively warm, the winters are cold and wet with an average rainfall of close to 900mm per year.  The good rainfall ensures that there is enough water year round for farming activities.  Môrelig packs their own fruit for the export market.

Since 2010 Môrelig, as well as the other family farm Loewenstein, are certified annually in terms of Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE).  They are currently a Level 4 B-BBEE contributor, and score especially well on Employment Equity, Enterprise Development and Socio Economic Development.   They strive toward uplifting their workforce through education and training.  A good example thereof is the key role that William’s right hand and assistant Farm Manager, Marie Cornelisen, plays in the production and harvest of the fruit on Môrelig.  Marie has been part of the workforce for more than a decade, and has been part of the management team for the last 9 years.

Kalos Farming

Kalos Farming (Pty) Ltd

Daniel Goosen is part of the fifth generation Goosen’s farming on the original Waboomsrivier farm, on which the town of Prince Alfred Hamlet’s, near Ceres, originated. After two generations, the farms were split between brothers and the part he currently farms, became Bo-Jagerskraal (later renamed Waboomskraal). His father, Gerhard Goosen, farmed on this property since 1968, but after his sudden death in 1991, Daniel took over the reigns. Waboomskraal has a fruit production unit and a drying plant. Since 2000 he expanded the business by buying Jakkalsnek, a grain, cattle and fruit production unit, Perdefontein, that specializes in fruit and onion seedlings, as well as Langvlei, specializing in wheat and sheep farming. Today, these four production units form Kalos Farming (Pty) Ltd.

In 2009 a Stone Fruit packhouse, with cooling facilities, was built on Perdefontein. This facility handles the packing of all Stone Fruit from the different units. A second packhouse was built in 2017 to accommodate the growing surplus of Stone Fruit and Pears, with larger cooling facilities as well.

A piece of land has been identified from which the KAJA Project will be run with the purpose to empower workers in the farming business. The farming and business knowledge available in the Kalos Farming management team, will be used to mentor the new farmers effectively, enabling them to run the project with knowledge, responsibility and efficiency.

Daniel, and his wife Lilian, base their success on faith and a social and environmental responsibility that forms a strong and stable foundation for their business. In the spirit of empowering their workers, they helped their staff to become majority shareholders in the farm Eendvoëlvlei, which Daniel bought with three other growers in 2006 in the Ceres valley.

Kalos Farming further ensures the well-being of their staff by encouraging valuable skills training, ensuring safe and secure housing and providing day care for the children of their workers. Their community hall is always available to the staff for various occasions.

They believe in an open, approachable management style that enables good communication, and they further promote this through a very active workers committee. Daniel believes his faith, his passion for farming, the staff knowing what is expected from them and the investment he makes in creating a positive working environment, are the keys to his success.

 

Goosen Boerdery

DP & JC Goosen Boerdery (Pty) Ltd

The Goosen Family started farming on Jagerskraal, Prince Alfred’s Hamlet during 1861 and is one of the oldest farming families in the area.  Born from a lineage of pioneers, the management of the business currently lies with 5th and 6th a generation which consists of Danie, Janus and JC Goosen as directors of the company.The company consists of three farming units, Jagerskraal (Prince Alfred’s Hamlet), Ou Stasie (Wolseley) and Nuutbegin (Rawsonville).  Farming on both sides of the Skurweberg Mountain range has the benefit of two climate zones and the opportunity to grow a wider range of varieties from early to late season.

Since 2003 the Goosen Family has also been part of another fruit farm, Denou Farming (Pty) Ltd.    The Den Haag Workers Trust, represented by workers of Ou Stasie and Jagerskraal, owns 51 % and the Goosen Family owns 49% of Denou Farming.

All Stone Fruit for Stems are packed at a state of the art packing facility on the original farm, Jagerskraal.

Excelsior Farm

Excelsior / Highlands Farm

Excelsior Farm is Located 12km from Villiersdorp, with Highlands Farm situated in Bo-Doornrivier about 25km from Villiersdorp. The Jacobs family started farming August 2001 when they brought Excelsior farm and have only acquired Highlands farm May 2018. The team consists out of Janco Jacobs, who majored in Agriculture and previously acted as an agri-adviser together with his wife Evelyn, who worked as a Technical Manager at an export company for 9 years. Whilst Janco is in charge of production, Evelyn manages the packhouse, audits and oversees the finances and wages. They are supported by a strong team with Jaco van der Merwe on Excelsior Farm and Gerhard van Rensburg on Highlands. Landi Schächle is in charge of all finances. While Paul, Janco’s father are enjoying his retirement he still runs a small animal production unit.

On Excelsior 45 ha of fruit is cultivated, and consists of mainly plums, nectarines, apricots, pears and late citrus. This while the 120 ha Highlands farm, mainly produce wine grapes, with plums and citrus filling up the season. Both Excelsior and Highlands is unique in that they both are situated in a narrow valley, with Excelsior at the foot of the Riviersonderend mountains, that separate the Breede Valley from the Overberg and Highlands in the Risjes Valley that is at the top of Doornrivier area.

Situated in a drier area called the Bossieveld (Shrub veld), the farms have unique micro-climates, with the sunnier and drier environment that provides lower fungal pressure, higher sugars in Stone Fruit and good fruit size. Both Excelsior and Highlands accumulates around 600 chilling units annually, resulting in good quality fruit harvested from early too late.

Both farms house permanent families and our team strongly believe in the well-being and development of their employees. Wonderful daycare facilities for all children under the age 6 years is provided which is run by Elize Jacobs, Janco’s mother. All workers are also involved in a producer-initiated social program, called SHINE. This program is run by two social workers who organize a range of events for the whole family. It focuses on employee training during working hours in programs such as financial management, HIV-Aids education, family planning, addiction and more.

The Jacobs family is serious about conservation, and strives to reduce the spraying of chemicals on their crops. They have been involved in the SIT-Project (Sterile Insect Technique) as well as mating disruption for the past 8 years. They have a very good monitoring system in place.

The mulching of the orchards also reduces the need for the use of herbicides.

Cerasus Farm

Cerasus Farm

At the foot of the Swartberg Mountains, Cerasus Farm was established in 2006. Nestled in the shadows of some of the highest mountain peaks in the Western Cape. It quenches its thirst from the melting snow of these mountains.

Owner Johan Furstenberg, fellow director PG van de Merwe and General Manager Andre Mouton, are responsible for the management of this production unit.

They are supported by operational managers in production administration and packing, who together ensure that the handling of the produce is closely supervised from orchard to market.

The Cerasus fruit season starts in November with Apricots and ends in May with pomegranates.

To prolong their fruit season, they skillfully use the different soil types and slopes for management and timing for each orchard harvested.

Cerasus manage the farm as a business and believe not to remain locked in the old methods but to innovate, understand and supply the right markets and keep a sustainable competitive edge over other businesses.

Cerasus Fruit Packers was established in 2016 and equipped with a new 16 drop electronic weight sizer for optimization of production and fruit handling. The packhouse and Cooling facilities are managed by Jacques Smit.

The farm constantly works towards a more sustainable and serene agricultural and business environment while building and sustaining relationships.

Cerasus forms part of the Hoeko irrigation scheme and water from the melting snow is collected in storage dams during winter for irrigation purposes. 80% of irrigation is done by means of natural gravitation, resulting in a dramatic decrease in electricity usage.

Cerasus is passionate about their business culture and its mission remains positive to inspire others.

Ceres Cascade Farms

Ceres Cascade Farms

Montana Farm was purchased in 1961 by Petrus Wolfaardt as a stock farm. Once he inherited it, Pietie Wolfaardt transformed the land into the fruit farm it is today. Joined by his wife, Shannon Wolfaardt, the pair purchased Cascade, a former guest farm, in 1984 to broaden the scope of the business. The variance of microclimates between the two sites enables the Wolfaardt family to produce quality Stone Fruit from early too late.

The combined 1,317 hectares of the two sites, includes a breath-taking mountain wilderness area. In conjunction with Cape Nature, portions of the Montana farm have been set aside to form part of a nature reserve; as it is one of the few known habitats of the endangered geometric tortoise. An injured wildlife release program also takes place further up the mountain to maintain the balance of the ecosystem.

Ceres Cascade Farms invests strongly in their staff as they recognize that they are the most valuable resource. From training to facilities, they provide support within and outside of the workplace. Community upliftment schemes currently include a running club, a dominoes club, a soccer team, as well as various life improvement opportunities.

Ceres Cascade Farms strives to continue producing fruit of the highest quality and identifying exciting varieties to plant from the best breeders worldwide. With an eye on the future, we are making the most of the technology available to us with advancements every year. We plan to continue growing and expanding the business while maintaining our quality driven heritage.