South Africa is facing its worst drought in 33 years, affecting crop and livestock farmers all over the Western Cape and in the rest of South Africa. For many farmers, natural water shortage is a major problem, and with much needed rains staying away and dams at an all-time low, many of them fear the worst for the next harvest. Mardouw in Swellendam, however, is in a unique position to cope with drought spells.
Mardouw Olive Estate, is uniquely situated at the foot of the Langeberg mountains, in Swellendam, South Africa. It was here in 1991, that the owners, with the expertise of the Agricultural Department at the University of Stellenbosch, planted 50.000 trees to replace old vines, taking advantage of the much treasured water that comes down from the mountains to fill the Mardouw’s wells and dams. So, while Mardouw’s olive trees may not be thousands of years old, but the 10,000ha estate reaches heights of 1250m, and its Mediterranean climate and fertile terroir are perfect for producing olive oil and Kalamata table olives.
“Our trees have successfully blossomed a month ago and are now settling in preparation to start growing fruit,” says Chris van Niekerk, general manager at Mardouw.
While the unusual drought does pose a number of challenges, Mardouw’s olive trees are quite privileged with the unlimited supply of ice-cold, fresh mountain water gushing down the surrounding Langeberg Mountains. We believe that this drought will hardly affect our next harvest, and look forward to a promising season. – Chris van Niekerk
More about Mardouw
The history of Mardouw dates back to the late 1700’s, but the land was bought by the Verder family in 2002. At the time, the land consisted of vineyards, and a variety of fruit trees. The Verder family decided that because of the fertility of the soil, something other than vines should be planted there. It was confirmed by one of South Africa’s top Agricultural Research Councils research specialists that the soil was excellent for the growing of olives. The soil, together with the Mediterranean-like climate, made conditions perfect for the growing of premium quality olives, especially the Kalamata, Mission, Frantoio and FS17 cultivar.