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  • Cathy Henderson

Many ways to uplift many lives…

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

At a time when there’s a lot of talk about sustainability, it's encouraging when some of the fruits of this labour of love begin to manifest – affecting many lives in so many ways… With a focus on a sustainable eco-system of biological farming, farm-to-table practices and deep investment into communities, Boschendal Estate shares highlights of a holistic journey:

Varied sustainability initiatives at Boschendal

Social and economic upliftment

People are a high priority for Boschendal. The estate has created 350 new jobs in the past three years, injecting R30-million into the local community each year through wages alone. Boschendal and Solms-Delta partnered to establish an early childhood development pre-school Klein Handjies on the farm. There are 60 kids enrolled, with the aim of at least 120 by year-end. It's breathing new life into Boschendal and its surrounding communities; members had often become demoralised as a result of low wages and insufficient work opportunities. Already, CEO Rob Lundie says, Boschendal has been able to increase its own workforce from 50 to close on 450 and additional self-employed enterprises fostered by his team will further contribute to the welfare of all in the Dwars River valley. He adds,

“Any involvement with local people will reveal that in our nearby Pniel, Kylemore and Lanquedoc villages there are men and women with specialist talents. As we see it, our task is to help such people become established in business.”

Environmental restoration

Reduced water use is possible through intelligent irrigation, cover crops, minimal integrated pest management, composting and bio char, along with an increased use of sustainable energy. The farm is in the development phase of generating sufficient solar power to meet the estate’s energy needs. Around 500 hectares of alien vegetation have been cleared and a conservation area established. In Boschendal’s hospitality operations, the estate decreases its footprint by minimising food miles and food waste, as well as using composting and agri-landscaping. Game has been introduced to the York/Groot Drakenstein area to generate tourism opportunities and help conserve the indigenous flora. The clearing also had a noticeable impact on the flow of the small rivers that are fed by the mountains. “Four big streams now flow all year round; before we cleared the alien vegetation they were dry for most of the summer months,’’ says Andre Lambrechts, the driving force behind the successful clearing operations at Boschendal. This increases natural water supply and helps to store rainfall effectively. He adds,

“We are committed to preserving South Africa’s diversity of soils, climate and geography, which creates a treasure trove of winemaking possibilities. It is enlightening to see that there is an increasing trend among South African wine producers to preserve the fynbos and renosterveld (indigenous vegetation) of the Cape Floral Kingdom, and minimise the further loss of the threatened natural habitat.”

Improved soil quality

Boschendal grew its cow herd from 200 Black Angus cattle in 2012 to more than 950 in 2016. The cows improve soil quality by trampling manure and other decaying organic matter into the soil, turning it into rich humus. To further improve the quality, free-range, pasture-fed chickens in mobile units called ‘chicken tractors’ follow the cows :-) As well as producing eggs for guests, they spread cow manure thereby further fertilising the soil.

Entrepreneurial development

Boschendal provides entrepreneurs from surrounding communities with an initial market for their product or service, start-up financing, business guidance, and back office and accounting support. Among the small businesses supported are:

- Pasture-raised chicken and egg production, 2 500 chickens sold and 8 000 eggs produced each month;

- A furniture-making business – run by a master craftsman at Boschendal, with 3 apprentices;

- New opportunities planned for local entrepreneurs include beekeeping, honey, alien vegetation eradication and trail-building enterprises.

- At the farm deli and butchery, you can purchase estate-produced wine, honey, olive oil, fruit and vegetables, eggs, beef and chicken.

Rob Lundie concludes, “In many ways we are just getting started.”

The winemaking way of the future…

As well as great wine, Boschendal Estate also offers guest accommodation, a wedding venue, restaurants, hiking and biking routes through the vineyards and mountains, and several farm dams to swim in and spend the afternoon fly-fishing.

[Source: edited media information and images from Atmosphere Communications]

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