Charity begins at home for Ceres growers at Eselfontein.
Four generations of the Jors family have made Eselfontein Farm in the Warm Bokkeveld area of Ceres their home. They have done so together with the Malherbes who have owned Eselfontein since January 15, 1884. Although known in the public eye as the venue for the Eselfontein MTB Festival, the most affordable timed MTB on the calendar, Eselfontein is a major supplier of apples and pears which are marketed by Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, the largest exporter of South African apples and pears into 104 countries and in South Africa through Shoprite, Checkers, Food Lover’s and Spar stores. They also have a dairy on site and farm with stone fruit.
“Marietjie, Rachel and Anna are my rocks and the best three additional mothers my children have,” says Janene Malherbe, originally of Grabouw. Along with husband Deon, and their family, the current generation of Eselfontein’s custodians, she has a strong focus on keeping fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle but more importantly on working to uplift and develop their community.
“It is a pleasure for us to be able to help Berenique Jors achieve her goals”, Janene says explaining that Jors, the daughter of their housekeeper Marietjie, is in her second year of studying towards a teaching degree at the University of Stellenbosch. “We were so pleased that we could assist Berenique with obtaining a bursary to study and we are happy to contribute towards her accommodation, books and so forth.”
Visitors to the Malherbe home might be welcomed by Bredwyn, Anna’s son. Bredwyn has been in rehabilitation for a drug addiction twice previously thanks to the support of Deon and Janene who see his potential. “When he is sober he is the most trustworthy and reliable young man and an asset to have in our home”, says Deon, “and we all, not least Bredwyn himself, work hard to be sure that he remains sober. We try to withhold judgement and understand that drugs and alcohol have a compelling attraction for many people. This is one of the reasons why we invest in the Patmos programme which includes social work and spiritual counselling for our farm community.”
Deon says that when one looks a little deeper there are so many people in the nearby Ceres area that work towards improving the lives of their community. “Take Andries Douglas, for example, he is a policeman in our community who also teaches karate. We have first-hand experience how a disciplined practice like karate improves morale in the community and Andries’ giveaway is an inspiration to us all.”
Janene regularly visits the homes of Eselfontein’s workers: “Some years ago I was sure that Adri Thomas wasn’t just a slow learner or undisciplined child and I suggested to her mother that we have her hearing tested. Turns out that Adri is deaf. Although much older now, she turns 12 soon, Janene’s intervention, motivation and financial support to get her into the De La Bat School for the deaf in Worcester, has profoundly improved her life and consequently her whole family’s too.
The Malherbes have creche and after-care facilities on the farm which is bolstered by a learning programme, LEER & LEEF, which has proven benefits to improve school readiness and Deon, a keen sportsman, also supports the Eselfontein soccer team with kit and transport to games along with the farm’s youth group.
Both Deon and Janene agree that for them charity begins at home and their focus is first on the people in their immediate community. “We started a fun competition for the home on the farm with the best kept garden offering a R5000 incentive”, Janene says, “and it is so heartening that many people compete not just because there is money at stake but also because they are house proud.” Deon chimes in how impressed he is by the farm’s foreman, Kammies Goliath who was recently awarded Best Foreman in the Witzenberg Valley.
Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing’s Roelf Pienaar, himself a champion for further education and part-time Finance lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch, says that having growers like the Malherbes who produce quality fruit and also invest in their people makes Tru-Cape’s job easier. “We have a responsibility towards our grower-shareholders and need to ensure we maximise returns. We know that our growers are some of the most skilled and innovative in the business but it is as important to us, and to the people who purchase our fruit, that their hearts are also in the right place.” Pienaar ends.
Watch out for the latest Santa Cruz bike TV commercial that was filmed on Eselfontein and see www.Eselfontein.co.za for news about the October 13 to 15 Eselfontein MTB Festival.