UCook and Pesto Princess are two well-known brands enjoyed by South Africans on a regular basis because of their fresh quality ingredients. What not many people will realise, however, is that a local farm right in the humble town of Robertson supplies fresh herbs to these culinary giants, as well as Allee Bleue Herbs – a major distributer to all SA retailers.
High Veg Herbs started out as the small farming project of George and Elize Kleynhans in 2007. The founders were farm workers at the time with a real desire to use their skills for something more. Initially they produced vegetables for the crèche and youth centre on the surrounding Graham Beck farms, and then moved into herb production on the open land. In 2016 the company received a grant from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, which allowed them to erect 2100 metre squared hydroponic tunnels, which the herbs have been grown in ever since.
“The feedback from our clients is that the quality of herbs is excellent and the service delivery is great,” beams George. The farm produces a range of fresh herbs including basil, coriander, sage, parsley, thyme, origanum, rocket and mint. Their two hectares are situated within the grounds of the Highlands Stud farm in Robertson, where George and Elize first worked. This is where they met our very own Samantha Sharkey, TMSA’s owner.
After this fortuitous meeting, TMSA stepped in to provide business mentorship, accounting services and market access support. In 2017, the services previously offered by TMSA were taken over by the Department of Agriculture’s Farmer Support Programme. “I stepped back from my mentorship role,” says Sam “but Elize and I still chat on a regular basis and she uses me as a sounding board.”
The growth of this business proves that investment from someone with knowledge and experience can yield measurable results. Sam helped to start the business and guided the Kleynhans family into creating what it is today. This was done without compensation outside of the great joy she reaps from seeing projects develop. Under her leadership, this desire to nurture others are encourage their growth has become a big part of the company.
High Veg’s future plans include becoming consistently profitable to increase the employment opportunities they can offer in the area. They also intend to expand the number of tunnels from seven to a total of 20. This would ensure that bigger yields of a larger variety of herbs can be cultivated. High Veg Herbs is also looking to expand into the dried herb market once a drying unit has been purchased.
High Veg Herbs have a loyal and solid team. Everyl Petie (20 years old) has been with High Veg Herbs since he finished his schooling. He enjoys working in the tunnels. His goal is to learn more about the fertigation process and how to maintain optimum growth from the plants. Everyl enjoys working with the whole team and hopes to learn more about pest control procedures to ensure optimum health of the plants.
We look forward to seeing how many more lives will blossom as the company’s future takes root.