As part of our corporate social investment, wherever possible we employ people from the farm and promote from within. This provides growth opportunities for a segment of the population who would traditionally be destined for a life as farm laborers. Our vineyard managers are all from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and have been trained on site. Many of them have never completed secondary school.
The cheese factory was started in 1995. This created excellent career opportunities for the current crop of farm labourers and their offspring to be trained as dairy technicians and cheese makers. The crowning achievement was in 2006 when the Alfalfa Dairy Feta cheese won the South African Championships and was judged the best Feta cheese in South Africa. The positive spin-off from this award was that one of our local cheese makers was awarded the prestigious scholarship. She was able to further enhance her cheese making skills in Burgundy, France. The cheese maker, Nolile Mazetta was born on the van der Merwe’s farm. Apart from being an incredible individual, she used the opportunities afforded to her in the system on the farm. It was a major feat to kick dust in the faces of candidates from multinational companies such as Parmalat, with university degrees to win this particular award.
The farm grows its own fodder for the cattle, greatly lowering our carbon footprint. The manure from the cows is composted to provide a rich source of nutrients for the vineyards. This makes use of a natural by product from the dairy, improves soil health, reduces chemical usage and reduces our carbon footprint.
The farm is in the process of starting up a bio-gas plant from which electricity will be generated from cow manure, further reducing our carbon footprint.
Investment Through Education
There has also been significant support for the local school. The land the school was built on was donated by the van der Merwe family. Support was also provided during the construction of the school and is continued with the company still assisting with the upkeep of the school grounds and carrying the costs with the 2011 expansion of the school.
A local crèche’ is run for the benefit of farm workers with small children, the farm being responsible for financial assistance by paying the salary of one of the teachers.
There are also ongoing sponsorships of projects with the Pioneer School for the Blind as well as the De La Bat School for the Deaf in Worcester.
Alvi’s Drift Wines is part of an agricultural enterprise which has been in the van der Merwe family since 1928 and consists of a large commercial dairy, cheese factory, vineyards, as well as the award-winning Alvi’s Drift wine cellar.
Based in Scherpenheuwel on the banks of the Breede River, some 20 kilometres south of Worcester, we are the main employer in the region. This responsibility is not taken lightly by the van der Merwe family, 3rd generation farmers who run the business. We are acutely aware that thousands of people depend on the opportunities provided by our farming activities.