Cultivating Legacy: The Story of Charl van der Merwe and Noordhoek Farm

Cultivating Legacy: The Story of Charl van der Merwe and Noordhoek Farm

Nestled in the upper reaches of the Oliphants River in the Western Cape lies Noordhoek Farm, a testament to three generations of dedication and passion for agriculture. Charl van der Merwe, the current steward of this land, carries forward a legacy that began over a century ago when his grandfather, Charl Petrus van der Merwe, took ownership of the farm on December 1, 1915.

Charl’s journey in farming is intertwined with the very soil of Noordhoek. Born and raised on the farm, Charl’s love for the land was almost inevitable. “I was born here and have a love for the farm,” he reflects. This deep-seated passion is now being passed down to his son, who farms alongside him, ensuring that the family tradition continues.

Charl is proud of the farm’s citrus orchards and the progress they’ve achieved over the years. He has seen the transformation of the local farming community. “In the early years, the community was very poor, and everyone had mixed farming to survive. It wasn’t until the late sixties that citrus started to become a significant factor,” he recalls. One of his proudest moments came when his fruits were packed for the first time under his own PUC number, marking a significant milestone in his farming career.

A typical day on Noordhoek Farm starts early, with tasks beginning at 7:30 am. Despite the routine, each day brings new challenges and opportunities. Charl’s motivation stems from his faith and the ever-changing nature of farming. “Every season has its own challenges and no season is the same,” he says, adding that working alongside his son adds to the joy of farming.

Sustainability is at the heart of Charl’s farming practices. He is committed to using eco-friendly products to combat weeds and pests, ensuring the health of both his crops and the environment. This sustainable approach is crucial for the long-term viability of the farm and the quality of the produce.

The partnership with Bet-El Fruits has been a significant factor in the farm’s recent successes. “Financially we were doing better,” Charl notes. He chose Bet-El Fruits as his exporter because it is a family business that offers personal contact every day. This close relationship proved invaluable during challenging times. “After 2021 and 2022’s very low prices and 2023’s flood, Bet-El stood by us, and we could farm comfortably again with 2023’s growing prices,” he shares.

Looking ahead, Charl is focused on passing the farm to the next generation, maintaining a commitment to quality over quantity. He believes that as long as South African farmers produce good quality fruit, the industry will continue to thrive. His vision for the future is clear: “To give fruit not always in quantity but in quality.”

Charl’s inspiration comes from his father, grandfather, and his son. He advises young and aspiring farmers to “do what you love and stay on your knees. Your best fertilizer is your footprints.” This philosophy underscores his approach to farming—rooted in passion, faith, and hard work.

The impact of Noordhoek Farm extends far beyond its orchards. Charl sees his workers as part of his family and is deeply committed to their well-being and the environment. This sense of community and responsibility is integral to the farm’s operations. The farm actively supports the local old age home in Citrusdal, contributing to its upkeep and the well-being of its residents. Through these efforts, Charl and Noordhoek Farm demonstrate their dedication to fostering a strong, supportive community.

Reflecting on his journey, Charl recalls the difficult seasons when environmental conditions nearly wiped out their trees. It was the support from outside parties and unwavering faith that helped them persevere. “Faith, loyalty, and respect for each other” are the lessons that have guided them through tough times.

One standout moment in Charl’s farming career is the ability of his family to work together as one cohesive team. Despite the challenges, the sense of unity and shared purpose keeps them going. Balancing the demands of farming with personal life is no easy task, but for Charl, “once a farmer, always a farmer.”

Charl van der Merwe’s story is one of resilience, legacy, and a deep connection to the land. At Bet-El Fruits, we are proud to partner with producers like Charl who embody the spirit of South African agriculture. His journey is a reminder of the hard work and dedication that goes into bringing top-quality produce to tables around the world.

At Bet-El Fruits, we are proud to be associated with Charl and the dedicated team at Noordhoek Farm. Their commitment to quality, community, and sustainability aligns perfectly with our values, making this partnership truly special.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *