For many year seafarers sought a trade route to link Europe and the East in order to cut out the Arab middlemen who controlled the land routes. Vasco da Gama, sent by Manuel I of Portugal, was the first to reached India in 1498 sailing around the Cape. Dutch East India Company (VOC), established a refreshment station in 1652 at the Cape of Good Hope to supply ships of the company trading between Europe and the East. Jan van Riebeeck, the first Dutch commander of the Cape, distributed land along the Liesbeeck River to nine "Free Burghers" on March 1, 1657, in order to establish farms. These farmers were to supply produce to the VOC company, to ensure that their trading ships had fresh supplies on route to India and Europe.
Local Khoikhoi people that settled in this area prior to the arrival of the Dutch, were forced to retreat or to be incorporated forcibly into the economy of the European settlers. Van Riebeeck established a vineyard on a prominent hill on the south-eastern end of the Table Mountain chain, naming it Bosheuvel (Bush Hill). In 1683, the first estate in this area passed into private hands. Herman Weeckens established this farm called De Oude Wijnberg (Old Wine Mountain). Two other farms named "Vredenhof" and "Rust en Werk" were established nearby.
A formal winter anchorage was established during 1743 in Simon's Bay due to unfavourable conditions in Table Bay during the windy winter season. A wagon route linking this False Bay settlement with Cape Town led over the hill adjacent to Oude Wijnberg.
The British arrived in False Bay in July 1795 under the pretext as caretakers of Dutch business as Napoleon was overrunning Europe. They took control of the Cape settlement on 16 Sept 1795 after the British troops, supported by gunfire from their ships, swept up the coast towards Muizenberg.
The small farming area of Wynberg developed rapidly into a garrison town, as the British settled a large amount of troops in the area. Being the halfway house between Table Bay and False Bay made it an attractive village for commercial activity. Farmers now had a new offset point for their produce besides the market in Cape Town. Subdivision of farms took place and commercial as well as residential properties were developed to supply the needs mostly of the military camp but also travelers on the wagon road between the two bays.
The Cape was returned to the Dutch in 1802, but the British took control of the Cape again after the start of the Napoleonic Wars in 1806.
Property continued to be the most attractive investment in Wynberg and soon a commercial bourgeoisie was formed looking for social advancement. The most prominent of these landlords were Philip Morgenrood, Higgs and James Maynard, whose estate became the largest privately owned property in Wynberg after consolidation in 1844. Today the estate has been sub-divided into many seperate houses through out Wynberg. The Vredenhof Organic Farm, in Somerset West. The farm was established by a family from Geneva in 2002, with these first principles of the Dutch East India Company; 'by supplying fresh produce to the locals and providing them with employment'. Hence the name Vredenhof!
Their purpose is to provide good nutrition, good health and happy times to you, our friends and customers, at our farm near Somerset West. Our farm is one of few in the country where you can buy and eat fresh organic produce that was harvested a few hours before. We believe that fresh organic fruits, vegetables and herbs provide many health and other benefits.
Firstly, we do not use any toxic agricultural chemicals, like pesticides, insecticides or herbicides on our farm and we do not use any artificial colours, flavours or preservatives in our kitchen; we therefore assure you that we will not add to the toxic contamination that many people suffer from the consumption of industrialized foods that contain many toxic substances.
Secondly, we enrich our soil with compost and other natural soil additives and we have developed a rich organic soil that contains billions of micro-organisms; this rich soil increases the quantity, the quality and the variety of nutrients in our produce and enables us to offer you food that is really nutritious.
Thirdly, our rich organic soil also enhances the taste and the flavours of our produce and enables us to give you a delightful culinary experience as well as good nutrition.
We have a shop, a restaurant, a kitchen, a garden and a playground. We welcome children and organize children parties. We try not to damage our clients’ health and we do not sell or serve foods or drinks that we think are unhealthy. Vredenhof is a farm of 27 hectares located in Bredell Road, 1 kilometre off the R44 between Somerset West and Stellenbosch. We grow about 100 different vegetables, herbs and fruits and, thanks to the benign climate, we are able to plant and harvest all year round. Some crops, like lettuces, carrots, spinach (Swiss chard), beetroots and spring onions, grow all year round. Other crops, like strawberries and asparagus, grow in the spring; tomatoes, beans, squashes, peppers and brinjals grow in the summer; grapes and pears in the autumn; and peas, cabbages, leaks, kale and broccoli in the winter.
We use only natural products on our farm. We use natural additives, such as compost, manure and guano, to enrich our soil and we also use these products for top-dressing and foliar-feeding. Healthy plants, like healthy humans, have strong immune systems that combat infections and diseases. We do companion planting and we use natural repellents, such as garlic, bio-neem and various herbs to repel insect pests. We encourage the proliferation of beneficial insects, like ladybirds and wasps, that eat insects that damage our crops. Thanks to our natural environment and the absence of poisonous chemicals, our farm is also a refuge for thousands of frogs, toads and other creatures that help to control the insect population.
Our farm is very labour-intensive: we do all our planting, weeding and harvesting by hand and we employ about 15 people to cultivate about 5 hectares.
We have a careful crop rotation programme to ensure that our soil is never depleted of the nutrients that are vital for the good health of our crops and for the good health of our clients who eat them. We plant green manures on a regular basis so that we put more nutrients back into the soil than are extracted by the crops that we grow.
We have our own borehole that supplies about 15,000 litres of water per hour and we are able to irrigate about 5 hectares of land in the summer. This enables us to grow crops that need a lot of water during the long, hot summers, like lettuces, squashes and tomatoes. The quality of our borehole water is very good and we also use it as our drinking water.
Our farm was certified organic for many years, either by Afrisco or SGS. However, these agencies require the use of organic seeds and, in our opinion, this requirement is not reasonable in South Africa for several reasons. Firstly, in South Africa, organic seeds are frequently not available in the varieties that grow well on our farm. Secondly, the organic seeds that we want are frequently not available in the quantities that we need, or at all. Thirdly, the organic seeds that are available are sometimes of poor quality with low germination rates. And fourthly, they are often very expensive. This requirement to use organic seeds might be realistic in Europe where these seeds are available, but, in our opinion, it is not realistic in South Africa. We use organic seeds if and when we can, but otherwise we use commercial untreated seeds on our farm. We do not use treated seeds because they are treated with a poison to kill bacteria and we do not want this poison in our soil. We do not use GMO (genetically modified) seeds at all, as they are banned by all organic certification agencies and because we have no need to use them.
Our shop is open five days each week, from Tuesday to Saturday, and from 08h00 to 16h00. The purpose of our shop is to enable our friends and clients to buy fresh produce and other good things to eat that were harvested on our farm or made in our kitchen only hours before their visit. Fresh food is healthier and tastes better than food that has been frozen, canned, bottled or preserved in any other way. The lettuces, carrots, beetroots and other vegetables that we sell in our shop are mainly harvested in the morning before you buy them.
We make fresh bread, meals, quiches, pies, rusks and other pastries every day. We have about three hundred chickens that roam around our farm during the day and we sell our own organic eggs. We make many products in our kitchen that we sell in our shop, including fruit juices, jams, ice cream, yoghurt, herbs, tomato sauce and mayonnaise.
We buy some products, mainly organic, for re-sale that we either cannot or do not grow on our farm, such as potatoes, avocados, oranges, bananas and pineapples. We also sell seeds, seedlings and compost so that our customers can grow their own fruits, vegetables and flowers at home.
We are open Tuesday to Saturday from 08:00 to 16:00