The 2750 ha Blomfontein farm is situated on the Bokkeveld escarpment, 45 km south of Nieuwoudtville, in the Northern Cape. It receives good rains (>300 mm), being in a relatively high altitude area. The property overlooks vast landscapes, including the canyon of the Kobee River. It is owned by Laurence Dworkin, and farming activity on the land is confined to production of wild and cultivated organic rooibos tea.
When the Heiveld was founded in 2001 the founding members decided to establish their tea court in a central location. Because Blomfontein is ideally situated, being equidistant to the farms of most of the Heiveld members to the north, east and south, they asked Laurence Dworkin to donate a 4 ha portion of the farm under a 99 year leasehold agreement for the building of the tea court.
Approximately 130 hectares of arable lands on Blomfontein are available for cultivation. Current dry tea output is 14 tons per annum, cultivated on about 70 hectares. The land is on a sandstone plateau that is deeply incised by canyons, creating dramatic and wild landscapes. Most of it is too rocky to farm, but is home to amazing proteas, wild olive trees and other indigenous vegetation of the Cape Floristic Kingdom. This is one of the six floral kingdoms in the world, and has the highest concentration of plant species on the planet. It contains an estimated 9 500 species, of which 70% do not grow anywhere else in the world.
In 2014 most of the farm was declared a private nature reserve, the first in the Northern Cape Province. The conditions agreed to for the nature reserve allow rooibos cultivation on all of the potential rooibos tea production areas, as well as harvesting of the wild rooibos on the property.
The farm is home to many small mammals, reptiles and birds. Antelope include klipspringer, steenbok and duiker and other mammals include leopard, caracal, baboons, aardvark, porcupine, hares and hyrax.
In the past, Blomfontein was inhabited by San hunter-gatherers – and today one can still see amazing rock art as testament to this. There are a number of well-preserved San rock paintings on rock faces on the farm. The deep valleys of the farm are spectacular, and a number of impressive waterfalls mark the descent of streams to the Kobee Canyon. Much of the area is relatively remote fynbos veld and is of great natural beauty, and the farm is surrounded on 3 sides by wilderness.
When the farm has been bought by the Trust it will allow members of the Heiveld to farm with organic rooibos tea and harvest wild rooibos tea, which will be marketed through the Heiveld Cooperative. The Trust will also manage the nature reserve to ensure sustainable utilisation of land, water and biodiversity resources on the property, and will facilitate the establishment of a community-based eco-tourism business on the reserve. Educational projects will be run for the benefit of the youth of the area.
Investment in this initiative will help small-scale rooibos farmers to combine conservation of a wonderful natural wilderness with production of finest rooibos tea for the fair trade market. It is a unique opportunity to support a truly progressive land initiative.