Special force teams the world over are taught when there’s a crisis, movement is life. Making a few mistakes along the way isn’t fatal but doing nothing is.
When the virus hit, the Swartland jumped into action, with most of our farmers quietly leading the way again. Existing charity programmes have been expanded and supplemented in an attempt to ensure food security in the region’s most vulnerable communities.
Swartland Municipality is co-ordinating the distribution of food parcels in co-operation with service organistaions like Goedgedacht, the ACVV and churches. Goedgedacht’s Path Onto Prosperity Programme (POP) centres have played a big role in addressing needs.
The Moorreesburg chamber of business has also instituted a large campaign with food parcels and clothing.
Further co-ordination of community food projects were highlighted at a recent meeting, discussed here SM hou vergadering met oog op provinsie se kosprojek.
The article highlights organisations participating in the distribution of food – Goedgedacht Trust (Riebeek West, Riebeek-Kasteel, Chatsworth, Riverlands and Koringberg); Malmesbury Sinithemba (Malmesbury, Kalbaskraal and Abbotsdale); Darling Outreach Foundation and Die Nessie; and, the Moorreesburg United Reformed Church (VGK).
Among them, the Goedgedacht Trust kicked into overdrive in recent months, especially for the distribution of food. The CSI division of the Goedgedacht Farm was founded in 1992 with the dream of uplifting rural communities through Early Childhood Development projects. Over the years the model has grown into 18 interventions called the Path Onto Prosperity (POP).
All the profits from the accommodation, weddings, venue hire and catering go to support the POP programme and the rural farm children that it helps.
What follows is a list of some of the initiatives that have been underway over the past few weeks. This includes the invaluable support of companies like Santam, the main sponsor of the Swartland Wine & Olive Route whose initiatives also highlighted below.
They planted rooibos (a key ingredient in our Caperitif) on the farm, Kalmoesfontein, last year. For the first harvest, the entire family was involved. “Now we’re playing around with some packaging ideas, making small bags and printing with leaves and branches,” says Helena Sheridan, who is described in her email auto-signature as “the cousin who does the Marketing and ‘web stuff'”.
“We are also baking a lot more (all the teenagers in the family are staying on the farm now and they eat a LOT) in order to reduce trips to the shop. We’re experimenting with new ways to wrap and present the breads we leave for guests visiting our cottages.”
The downtime for the accommodation is also allowing them to make snag lists, fix what can be and plan for future events and functions.
“We’re putting seeds in the soil, adding mulch and cover crops to vineyards and preparing for winter,” says Helena.
Allesverloren says they’ve kept up payments of salaries and wages to staff as if they’re still working full time. It has also donated extra food to the elderly in its community. Amongst its activities, they’ve taken time to cut the rose bushes and sent some floral cheer to residents of the local Humanitas retirement home.
David & Nadia report that they’ve set aside part of the wine cellar to cook soup twice a week, which is distributed to families living in Sieberitskloof.
One cellar worker, nicknamed “Klasie” has thrived with the initiative and so the project has been named “Klasie’s Kitchen” with the tagline: “It’s a Klaas act!”
The farm supplies the ingredients, Randall “Klasie” cooks them, and he and Benjamin distribute in the afternoons.
In addition to its other community support initiatives, Lammershoek’s community vegetable garden continues to be tended and has now become a valuable resource, reports the team.
The Olive Boutique is the Riebeek Valley “Village Mill”. “We mill olives to extract extra virgin olive oil, which we rack and filter for local Valley and Swartland regional olive enthusiasts, hobbyists and emerging commercial olive farmers”, says Derek van der Riet. “No quantity is too small, if you can weigh it, we can mill it”.
The 2020 olive season for the Swartland olive oil enthusiasts appears to be a “bumper” season. The lockdown has meant that weekend farmers are at home, with their olive trees loaded with fruit and plenty of time on their hands to pick. According to Derek, they have been pressing for an average of 14 hours a day, including weekends and public holidays since the 1st April. They have already pressed for more than 40 households and the first bottles of filtered 2020 extra virgin olive oil have been delivered and are being enjoyed in homes all over the Riebeek Valley.
With harvest underway, Het Vlock Casteel says they’re excited about the prospects. Thankfully, volumes are up on the previous year with the quality looking excellent.
In addition to participating in charitable community activities undertaken by amongst others Goedgedacht, the farm itself has made raisins and distributed cases of grapes. Wifi has also been set up on the farm and workers have been reading. “We’ve encouraged them to read so that they stay on top of current issues related to the virus,” says owner Pieter du Toit.
“Furthermore, we’ve assigned one staff member to teach make cuttings of Leylandii cypresses, which we also made available via YouTube for them to watch.”
At the time of responding to our queries a couple of weeks ago, they’d assigned three people to work in the olive processing plant while the remainder are contractors. “We’re trying to alleviate as much pressure on our people during a time with they’re beginning to take strain. We keep them abreast of our plans and how we can use them. We want to make sure they also stay separate from people moving on and off the farm. Our management team in place to ensure isolation. Fortunately, this is a time of the year when our people take their holidays.”
They began returning to work on April 22.
Kloovenburg has also received permits for the sale of olives, which they’re advertising on social media. The price is R40/kg for a minimum of 10kg of fresh olives.
With regards harvest, Pieter says the past three years have seen irregular harvests. Last year had good quality, but small volumes. This year, there was little wind and good pollination. “We’re very grateful for the rain over the Easter weekend, which helped for quality and quantity and with the droughts that have kept pests in check, the olive season certainly looks very promising.”
The Santam Group announced recently it would make R200-million available as COVID-19 relief to help clients, suppliers and contribute to the Government’s Solidarity Fund. A media release said it would expand its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiatives too, to deal with the impact of the pandemic.
R20 million has been set aside to assist Santam suppliers while a further R20 million will be made to the recently established Solidarity Fund and other corporate social investment initiatives that are critical in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.