Trevor’s Farm, Prince Alfred Hamlet and Wolseley

Trevor Abrahams bought his first farm in 2000 between Ceres and Prince Alfred Hamlet which was 17ha of cover crop fields with summer water for 12ha under pressure. Through hard work, engaging with organized agriculture and help from a supportive mentor, he expanded his farm to 39ha in total with 22ha orchards. In 2009 Trevor bought a second farm, Berberhoek, in Wolseley. It is 34.5ha in size and when he bought the farm it had 10.5ha of fruit and subsequently, this has increased to 24ha, including 5ha of new orchard provided by the Jobs Fund.

Trevor has also changed his business from his single enterprise to the Abrahams Trust. Trevor and his wife, Maggie, made their three children, Etienne, Leolan and Yolandi the beneficiaries of the family trust. Etienne Abrahams (36) has studied IT and is responsible for the computer and communication systems for the business. Leolan is a qualified Mechanical Engineer and is the MD of the business. Yolani is a qualified chef and is responsible for business extension within the business. Trevor is still involved in an advisory capacity and works closely with Leolan who is responsible for the farming activities.

In total between the two farms, Trevor’s Farm has 46ha of trees planted of which 33% are new orchards. The orchards are made up of nectarines, peaches, plums and pears. Although the farms are only 16 km apart, the distance between them is the steep incline of Mitchell’s Pass between Wolseley and Prince Alfred Hamlet. The climate of the two farms are quite different and that makes it possible to produce a wider range of fruit over a longer production period. The fruit produced by the two farms is packed at Graaff Packing and marketed by Delecta to export and supply local retail programmes.

“The water shortage during the drought has fortunately not had an impact on the farming operation, says Trevor. “At Wolseley our group of neighbouring farms is co-operating to optimise water usage. We are also looking at implementing improved technology and measuring systems that are implemented online to improve production and save water and energy usage. In order to do this, we need skilled people to operate this technology.”

Trevor explained that the involvement of the business with the Jobs Fund started through the Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber (DFDC) when the process started to select a group of low risk 100% BEE emerging farmer projects with whom to implement the project. “We qualified for the project and have been involved with the process since 2016 when we received 2ha of Grafola nectarines and 1ha of Ruby Sun plums as well as all the soil preparation and infrastructure required to establish the orchards. These were all planted on Berberhoek in Wolseley.”

“In 2017 we received a further 2ha of Ruby Sun Plums, also planted at Wolseley. We also received 2ha of Forelle pears, 3.6ha of Packham’s Triumph pears and 2ha of Celina pears as well as the soil preparation and infrastructure required to establish the orchards. We also received two new tractors, two chemical sprayers and 100 wooden picking bins. In 2018 we received 2ha of Forelle pears and 1.4ha of Celina pears at Prince Alfred Hamlet and a 30x12m farm shed at Berberhoek.

“We are very grateful that our business has received (and will receive) this remarkable assistance from the Jobs Fund and would like to express our thanks and gratitude to the directors of the DFDC, Hortgro and AFASA (African Farmers’ Association of South Africa) for their parts in helping us to establish our business.

“The orchards that we are receiving from the Jobs Fund saved the business the considerable expense of replanting and expansion that was required. We are also thrilled to have received and planted new fruit varieties that have good market demand, especially as many of the varieties that we replaced were under increasing pressure in our markets. The addition of pears to our orchards is expanding the farm’s fruit basket and as pear trees do not need to be replaced as often as stone fruit trees, this will also provide the business with additional long-term sustainability. After planting these 15ha of new orchards, the arable land on the two farms is now fully planted. The next step is to for us to work at optimising the yield of the two farms.”

“The new hectares of fruit trees definitely created new jobs as the industry-standard generally requires 1.5 labourers per 1ha of orchards. We have 34 permanent workers and eight temporary workers.

Fruit production remains the family’s key business but this is a very enterprising family. Maggie Abrahams has cooked jams for some time for an additional income and the Abrahams Trust intended to expand their operations into agri-tourism but Covid-19 put it on hold. The three Abrahams siblings also opened a bakery in Ceres called Kole en Deeg and Yolani runs this popular establishment. The family also plans to join the fruit and culinary tourism routes in the area post-Covid. The agri-tourism section of the company will then create additional jobs.

Trevor’s go-getter spirit and values have clearly had a positive influence on his children and he is very proud of their enterprising spirit and work ethic. “It is one of my dreams that Leolan should enter the young farmer of the year competition soon,” muses Trevor.