In the Bossieveld area of Villiersdorp, a landscape adorned with historic farms such as Radyn and Stettyn unfolds before your eyes. It is here, amid the grandeur of the Stettyn mountain range, that the Botha family has cultivated the land for eight generations since 1818.
As Hendrik Botha, the managing director of Stettyn Vineyards in the Western Cape, proudly shares, “We have a rich history here at Stettyn, and our family has been farming this land since the early 1800s.”
While Stettyn Cellar stands as a prominent symbol of their agricultural enterprise, the Botha family’s endeavours extend beyond winemaking. Hendrik and his wife, Wena, are exceptional apple and pear growers, having recently been honoured with Two-a-Day’s prestigious trophy for the highest income per bearing hectare. With just 20 hectares dedicated to these fruits, their success speaks volumes about their commitment and expertise.
When employees become family
Hendrik is quick to recognise the importance of his dedicated team, stating, “We have about 40 people on our full-time staff and 25 on-farm homes. We believe in the value of every individual’s contribution, and we strive to create an environment where everyone’s skills and efforts are recognised.”
Wena, who works as a medical doctor in Villiersdorp, adds, “We support our farm family through initiatives such as our own creche and the Stettyn Primary School. It’s about more than just farming; it’s about building a strong and caring community.”
The vineyards and cellar are not the only facets of the Botha family’s agricultural pursuits. They have also diversified into soft citrus, demonstrating their adaptability and foresight. In collaboration with Two-a-Day, they recently established a one million-litre juice concentrate storage facility adjacent to the cellar.
Hendrik explains, “We designed the storage facility to be easily expandable, reflecting our confidence in future demand. We are always looking ahead and seeking opportunities for growth.”
Across the road from the cellar and their family home lies a parcel of uncultivated land. Hendrik fondly recalls his father’s emphasis on water security, sharing, “We have invested heavily in building a dam at an elevation that minimises the need for excessive pumping. The dam not only ensures our water supply but also provides a habitat for various plains game such as black wildebeest, bontebok, zebra, and eland. Our love for nature runs deep within our family.”
As the Bothas passionately pursue their agricultural endeavours, their commitment to the well-being of their staff remains unwavering. Hendrik holds weekly meetings with all employees, where he explains the entire process from planting the grape to selling the bottle of wine, emphasising the significance of quality over quantity.
He states, “We incentivise staff to focus on quality. Our daily picking targets are designed to allow sufficient time for careful harvesting, avoiding any damage to the fruit. Producing top-quality fruit is a collective effort that involves well-trained staff and the guidance of Two-a-Day’s technical experts.”
Investing in people and the land
Wena highlights their belief in the potential for growth and improvement among their employees, sharing, “We see the good in everyone, and we encourage our staff to upskill and expand their capabilities. Even if someone isn’t a driver, we encourage them to obtain a driver’s license. By providing opportunities for advancement, we enable our employees to climb the organisational chart and increase their income potential. We believe in investing in people, just as we invest in the land.”
Their dedication to their staff extends beyond the farm itself. Wena shares a heartfelt story, saying, “We are always looking for ways to add value to the lives of our employees. One of our employee’s children showed a lot of potential and had a passion for becoming a sound engineer.
“After unsuccessful attempts to secure a bursary for him, we decided to fund his education ourselves. It is truly rewarding to see him blossom and know that we have made a positive impact on his life.”
Setting an example for modern farmers
Attie van Zyl, the managing director of Two-a-Day Group, recognises the Bothas as progressive and innovative farmers who have overcome challenging conditions. He praises Hendrik, stating, “I rate him highly, and his appointment to our board in 2022 is a testament to his capabilities. Both Hendrik and Wena have demonstrated deep care for their staff and are setting a commendable example for modern South African farmers.”
Roelf Pienaar, managing director of Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, the largest exporter of South African apples and pears, acknowledges the impact of growers like the Bothas on their community. He states, “Tru-Cape’s customers value the positive way our growers support their staff and contribute to a better South Africa. The Bothas exemplify the values we hold dear and are a source of pride for our organisation.”
The story of the Botha family of Stettyn Vineyards is one of resilience, dedication, and compassion. They have nurtured the land, empowered their employees, and left an indelible mark on the agricultural landscape. Through their passion for farming, commitment to quality, and investment in their community, they embody the spirit of progress and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
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