In February 2016 the Heiveld Co-operative and its partners in Germany launched an exciting campaign to buy land for use by aspiring rooibos small-scale farmers while also conserving the amazing landscapes and plant life of the Bokkeveld Plateau in South Africa.
A year later the Heiveld has realized its dream of buying the 2,497 hectare farm and private nature reserve Blomfontein. The Heiveld Cooperative’s Tea Court (production facility) and store have now been secured in perpetuity through the purchase of the farm.
We achieved this through a remarkable joint effort between partners and friends in Europe, North America and South Africa. Most of the funds were donated to the Trust, but we were still short of the finishing line near the end of 2016. With the help of an advance payment from trading partner Jardins de Gaia, the Heiveld closed the gap with a loan of R1,6 million to the Trust.
Until the Trust has repaid its loan to the Heiveld, all of the rooibos produced on Blomfontein will be delivered to the Cooperative. We hope that this will be possible within three years.
Once the loan is paid off the Trust will give some of the younger members of the Cooperative access to land on the farm to produce their own rooibos. We will continue to conserve the amazing natural beauty and biodiversity of the area, and to give visitors the opportunity to experience the beautiful wilderness that is Blomfontein.
The Co-operative was formed in 2001, and has made a huge difference in people’s lives, enabling people to start escaping from centuries of oppression and poverty. The Heiveld has made a reputation as a producer of the finest, hand-made rooibos tea, and in Germany supplies this to dwp, the World Shops and ChariTea. In France Jardins de Gaïa and Alter Eco distribute Heiveld rooibos. Fair prices mean better lives for producers, and the Heiveld enables people to take charge of their destinies in ways that were not possible in the Apartheid past. All of these partners have also contributed to the land purchase campaign.
Now that we have purchased the property, we want to enhance its production of rooibos and also improve the eco-tourism experience of visitors by improving the facilities and providing information and interpretation. By making a contribution to the Heiveld’s Trust, you will enable us to invest adequately in these objectives, and also provide the support that we need to enable future generations of young rooibos farmers to make a good living from the land of their ancestors.
This initiative demonstrates a win-win outcome that combines nature conservation with land reform, sustainable small-scale agricultural development and organic farming. If you would like to visit and learn more about it, please write to Noel Oettlé at firstname.lastname@example.org