Lakeview Farm, Villiersdorp

The Lakeview farm project was started in 2007 when 120 beneficiaries of the Lakeview Workers’ Trust bought the farm with LRAD funding from the Department of Land Affairs. The beneficiaries were workers drawn from farms in the area who were interested in being part of the project as well as a few of the original workers from Lakeview farm. The Two-a-Day Group (Pty) Ltd. a primary agricultural co-operative in Elgin was a driving force behind this initiative and established a 20-year strategic partnership with the Lakeview Workers’ Trust. This strategic partnership is still currently in place and Two-a-Day provides ongoing technical and administrative support at Lakeview Farm.

The original number of beneficiaries has decreased and today there are only 83 and there are eight beneficiaries employed on the farm. The farm’s production manager Michael Jaarson was appointed at Lakeview in 2016 and is employed by the Lakeview Workers’ Trust. He graduated in 2004 with a B. Tech. qualification in Agricultural Management from NMMU’s George Campus at Saasveld. “I started my career in the pomefruit industry with the Melsetter Group and spent a year at the Eikenhof production unit before I was appointed as a production manager at Greymead. Sometime later I joined the Crookes Brothers Group as a production manager at their Ouwerf production unit before I applied for this post. We receive invaluable ongoing technical and administrative assistance from our strategic partner Two-a-Day and I have regular contact with them. Two-a-Day also packs and markets the fruit produced on Lakeview on behalf of the Lakeview Workers’ Trust.

Lakeview Farm is 63ha and 28ha are planted with apples and pears. The farm has a small water allotment as it is only registered for 27ha. “We receive our water from the Theewaterskloof Dam and as a result of the current water crisis, our water supply has been cut by 70% of our usual supply since the start of the current growing season. As a result our current crop is reduced by at least 20%. In addition, the farm has a high percentage of Golden Delicious apple trees and this variety is no longer receiving the good returns that it did previously. Fortunately Lakeview has reasonably good financial reserves to assist with survival through this tough time.

“We heard about the Jobs Fund through Hortgro in 2016,” explains Michael. “Lakeview was selected to be part of the Jobs Fund project and during 2017 we received three Filtomat filters worth R60 000 each. The filtering system has been installed and is integrated with our automatic system. We are very grateful for these sophisticated, self-rinsing filters are making a big difference to our irrigation system. During 2018 the Jobs Fund is providing us with 2ha of Packham pears. This includes the trees as well as the soil preparation, trellising, poles and irrigation and this is currently in progress. Next year we expect to receive a tractor and a chemical spray cart and 1 year’s production costs for the new orchard.”

“The help from the Jobs Fund has come at a good time as assisting the farm to establish new orchards, improving the irrigation and providing a tractor and chemical spray cart will provide Lakeview with a very welcome boost in production. The new orchards will create more jobs and a young person could get a job as a spray operator.”

Wilhelm Philander is one of the Lakeview Worker’s Trust beneficiaries employed at Lakeview. “I have been working at Lakeview since before the Trust bought the farm. Our ownership of the farm means a great deal to us. The help that we are receiving from the Jobs Fund will really help us to renew the farm and get ahead and I am very grateful for this opportunity. Two of my children also work here on the farm and this will provide them with better security for the future.”

How many employees?

“For us Lakeview is one of the best success stories in terms of Two-a-Day’s and government’s land reform initiatives,” says Dimitri Jacobs, Human Resources Director for Two-a-Day. “We are very proud of the farm and what has been achieved by one of the oldest projects that we are involved with. Through the strategic partnership with Two-a-Day the farm is highly profitable and during the past ten years we have observed remarkable growth in the capacity development of the beneficiaries, employees and those serving on the Trust and Company. We believe that Lakeview might be self-managed without a strategic partner in a much shorter period than what we initially anticipated and this is a key driver for us as strategic partner. The contribution from the Jobs Fund is very welcome as it will allow for the farm to create more jobs and increase its profitability over time.”