Long-time Oak Valley employee retires a millionaire and still maintains close ties with founding family.
Hansie Boshoff has a long history at Oak Valley Estate in Grabouw. He was born there in 1948 to Hans and Sarah Boshoff who worked with Oak Valley Estate’s early owners in establishing the apple trade that the Elgin Grabouw Villiersdorp and Vyeboom valleys are now so famous for.
In fact, it was Sir Antonie Viljoen, a medical doctor, who was the first to establish apple production in the area in 1900.
With a rare foresight, Boshoff made early plans for his future that would not only catapult him into a long career at Oak Valley but also a close relationship with the landowners which continues to this day. Following his unwavering commitment to pay into a retirement fund set up by Oak Valley, possibly also a first in the area at the time, he had amassed sufficient capital to retire a millionaire.
“Hard work pays off. When I grew up on this farm, we manually worked the bare land. We had no tractors or diggers and we did everything ourselves. Today, I am proud to see how the farm has grown and developed, knowing I was one of the workers who have made Oak Valley what it is today,” he says adding: ”I always thought of the future and knew that if I remained determined and loyal, Oak Valley would provide me with an opportunity I never knew was possible”.
In 2013 when Boshoff retired all this hard work paid off with more than a million Rand in his bank account. Boshoff has retained his connection to Oak Valley and when Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing planted the Ohenimuri tree in Tru-Cape’s Heritage Orchard of ancient varieties at Oak Valley Estate, it was Boshoff they called upon. It was Boshoff’s father Hans that planted the first Ohenimuri on the farm.
Tru-Cape’s New Variety Expert, Buks Nel who, along with the company’s Quality Assurance Manager Henk Griessel, led the development of The Heritage Orchard explained: “It is believed that the well-known nurseryman of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, H.E.V. Pickstone, brought it to South Africa from New Zealand before the turn of the century. Here it was called Ohenimuri (note the different spelling from the New Zealand Ohinemuri), and of course Dunn’s Seedling. Mr. Pickstone’s Order Form of 1900 lists it as Ohenimuri and this is the year when Dr. Antonie Viljoen of Oak Valley in Elgin ordered 100 trees of this variety. He paid one shilling and six pence for first-size trees and one shilling for second-size trees. The variety obviously caught on, because the first apple trees that the apple pioneer Miss Kathleen Murray, also from Elgin, planted in 1915 were 350 Ohenimuris. In 1927 the area planted to this variety in the Western Cape was 19% of the total (second after Wemmershoek). The hey-day of the Ohenimuri was certainly in the 1950’s when it constituted 28% of all apples. In 1929 packing records of the farm Elgin Orchards in Elgin show that they packed 3373 cartons of Ohenimuri. It is apt that this apple, now known affectionally as “Ou Hennie” should be replanted by Hansie Boshoff.”
Tru-Cape Managing Director Roelf Pienaar says that Boshoff’s commitment to saving for his future and Oak Valley Estate’s prescience in setting up a growth fund to pay pensions to their workers is significant as a counterbalance to the negative narrative that relationships between growers and their staff are always adversarial. Also, Boshoff is not alone in proving that a singular focus pays off – three Oak Valley farm workers retired as millionaires.
“As one of Tru-Cape’s grower owners, Oak Valley continues to lead as an innovator in its relationship with its people and also with its growing practices and contributes significantly to the Tru-Cape business.” Pienaar ends.