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Grabouw and Elgin Valley snippets

Written by  Nicolene Swanepoel
| in op Reis
| April 8, 2015

New life for once wearied piece of history. One little building which will be known to many South Africans, but more difficult to place, is the Harris Bros. shop in Grabouw. One of David Kramer's popular Volksiebus advertisements was filmed in front of this shop.

In the footage the building seems overly gaudy, so I thoroughly studied the video, that Broekie Lace is the real deal, not a plastic imitation.
The shop in the old Grabouw main road, is near the Palmiet river bridge, opposite Agrimark and was busy falling apart when Leana Louw decided to do something about it. "I couldn't stand by and see such a lovely old building become so neglected," says Leana. "After two months of begging and hard work I obtained the premises and the doors are now open for business."
Some background about the building which is now the Koffiekraal coffee shop: Max Harris came to the area in 1904 and tried his hand at farming. His efforts at grain farming on a portion of the old Palmiet River farm were a dismal failure. The area is totally unsuited to grain farming. Wisely he decided to shift his focus to trade. He opened his shop in 1908 (thus now 107 years old), and it flourished. april-op-reis-2-1Harris also became an eminent member of the local community.
Today another shop and person behind the shop flourishes here. "I am so glad for my fellow Grabouwers' enthusiastic support of my coffee shop," says Leana. "I hope that more people will be inspired to take ownership of our town in this way. We have an incredible valley. We should talk less and do more."
Koffiekraal serves the most delicious coffee and light meals at a song.april-op-reis-2-2

Elgin Apple Museum

Apparently this special museum is one of only two such museums in the world. Unfortunately it is currently closed until damage from a series of break-ins can be repaired. Hopefully the doors will reopen soon and perhaps this snippet will help to garner support.  
The museum is housed in one of the oldest houses along the Palmiet river in Grabouw. It was once an old cobbler's dwelling where Lady Anne Barnard is said to have stayed over on one occasion.
The museum was founded by the Palmiet Historical Society in 1972. It contains the history of the apple farming industry in South Africa and displays old photographs and implements. Sadly over the past few years vandals and thieves have taken their toll on the establishment. Norma Bridgman, manages the museum and is currently busy raising funds to install decent burglar bars and an alarm system at the museum, so it can be reopened to the public.
Members of the public who can help with funding are requested to contact Norma at 072 355 1613.

Our own famous sculptor

april-op-reis-2-3Well-known Grabouw sculptor, Marieke Prinsloo-Rowe, out of many, was awarded the tender to do a major commemorative public sculpture: the Unisa Children's Memorial.  She completed this monumental task in November last year.   
Six life-sized sculpture figures form the installation.  The figures were modeled by children from Agape Children’s Home in Grabouw.  They themselves designed the doves that fly between them.  “In the three tiers their figures form, they portray a hope that goes from shame and heartache, to hope and a future,” says Marieke.
april-op-reis-2-4From the budget allocated to the project Marieke had a R10 000 educational trust fund set up for each child.
Marieke adds: “Though the monument stands in Pretoria, I feel as though this is one of the most profound local community-involved projects that I have had the honour to complete.”
Marieke’s work is cherished in Elgin. One of them - the 'Prima Vera Twins' - stands at Rock Haven Farm, which forms a backdrop to the wedding celebrations held there.

Tribute to agents of change

Elgin rabbits

Boasting skills gained from 25 years of abattoir experience as well as business backgrounds, company directors Nigel Mark Fourie, Reginald Coenraad Brand and Ronwin Chester Brand established Elgin Rabbits in 2013. The 100% black owned, Level 4 B-BBEE company is located in the Grabouw community.
Being pioneers in a niche market, they are passionate entrepreneurs.  In  a poverty ridden town, they are proud to be taking responsibility not only for their own families, but also to be creating work and income for others.  They hope to expand their supply-chain, to also empower emerging entrepreneurs from surrounding towns.
While rabbit meat currently mostly caters for epicurean tastes in the elite restaurant market, it has a growing base of low income consumers.  Elgin Rabbits provide both markets.
Rabbit meat is an affordable, healthy alternative. It has a higher protein value than pork, lamb or beef. It is low in cholesterol (lower than chicken), also with fewer calories, significantly less saturated fat and lower sodium content.
The renowned breeding capacity of rabbits ensures high production.  A doe rabbit of 4,5kg can produce 145,15kg of meat per year - more than a cow. Their feed-to-meat conversion ratio is also high - suckling baby rabbits double their weight in 6 days.
For more info visit www.elginrabbits.co.za

Emerging farmer sets the bar high

april-op-reis-2-5Anthony Faizel Plaatjies is an emerging farmer from the Lebanon community in Grabouw. He is also a recipient of the Catchment-2-Coast Small Grants Program of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve Company.
According to Anthony's mentor Jo Kearney he is a sterling student:  “I would be a wealthy man if I could bottle and sell this young man’s enthusiasm and passion for what he is doing. I'm so proud of my “Green Champion".
After finishing school in 2013, Anthony took over the management and further development of an existing vegetable tunnel at the Thandi Community Crèche.  Armed with only a few short courses in basic agriculture,  offered by the Surplus People Project (SPP),  Anthony became passionate about his new found calling in life. His primary objective is to grow quality veggies of a high nutritional value for the youth of the Thandi Community Crèche. Any surplus veggies from the Thandi Food Garden will be sold to the local Lebanon community.  
Jo Kearney is an Economic Development Practitioner and Mentor for the EduCraft Training & Development CC, a Level 2 BEE Contributor.  Their motto is “enabling ordinary people to turn their passion-into-profit”
Contact Jo on  074 207 1721 for more information.

Pumpkin time

april-op-reis-2-6The agricultural initiative, Nu-Mountain Agricultural Primary Cooperative, is driven by  retired school teacher ‘juffrou’ Lillian Kriege.  Located in the Nuweberg community on the way to Villiersdorp, the agricultural co-op consists primarily of women. They are working hard to get their garden in full production. The women are also beneficiaries of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve Company: Catchment-2-Coast Small Grants Program and are very excited about the irrigation system, compost and fertiliser that they have received as part of their hand-up grant. Despite severe challenges with erratic water supply and inconsistent labour, they have successfully produced a giant organic pumpkin - in excess of 25kgs. Big plans are underway to put up a new tunnel for more intensive production of high-demand vegetable- and salad items for local farm-stalls and restaurants.
For more information email Jo: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.