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Bridelia - Who are we

On 24 January 1954 Frans en Mattie made Levubu their new home.  They moved from the vast open fields of van der Bijlpark to the contrasting green valley at the foot of the Soutpansberg. The house had two bedrooms with no bathrooms or running water.  Photographer turned farmer was no easy feat.

Deforestation was a hand labour process.  Start-up was with six mules, one iron-wheel trailer and a one disc plough.  A year later Frans and two neighbours bought a “Vaaljapie” tractor to ease the tedious process.  That year saw the first wooden shed being built; which still serves its purpose to this day.   

The first crops to grow in the rich virgin soils were tomatoes and gems quash. Fast forward two years later and the first banana plant materials were introduced. To cater for the growth, the valley had to resort to the labour intensive method of hand deforestation.

As farming production met demand, the need for water storage drastically increased. Frans and two neighbouring farmers made their way to Cape Town to request the extension of the Albasini Dam wall. The Minister of Water Affairs granted their request and farming in Levubu took a swing at the next gear.

A generator with a battery system was installed in 1958, twenty years would pass before Levubu received Eskom electricity (1968). The battery system generator was introduced in conjunction with the first borehole to be sunk; the pressure wasn’t as immense as they had hoped, although it sufficed for the time being. The system was later replaced with a diesel engine. 1964 marked the sinking of the borehole to be used to this day. Ultimately a reliable water supply eased the living conditions on the farm. This was a noteworthy century in our history, as Frans joined the Banana Farmers Society in the late 60’s.

During 1969 Wessel, France’s youngest son was roped into the business and brought some newfound knowledge.  Avocado’s was planted as an alternative and a banana ripening station was opened, which soon proved itself a lucrative asset within the province. The ripening station was sold in later years.

1995 Saw the business coming full circle, when Franse’s grandson - Johan completed his Agricultural Diploma at Lowveld Agricultural College and became involved with the business. A mere 10 years later he was awarded the South African Farmers Union "Young Farmer of the Year” Award in 2005.

The Furstenbergs and Esterhuizens emabarked on a joint venture in 2001, when they decided to revive the banana ripening stations.  As the years rolled by, the venture invested in farming operations.  So this is three farming generations.  Frans pioneered with bananas, Wessel expanded with Avocados, and the Bridelia partnership with macadamia nuts.  Today Johan handles the management of Bridelia.

Bridelia Group was named after Bridelia micrantha, the brown stinkwood tree, which grows its valuable and beautiful very fine grained brown wood in the deep red Hutton soils and favourable subtropical climate of the Soutpansberg.

Bridelia is a leading farming company that produces the finest quality bananas, avocadoes, guavas and macadamia and pecan nuts to local and export markets. The Bridelia plan fully utilizes innovative farming technologies and continually develops methods to respond to their client’s needs, including: smart environment friendly agriculture, saving on growing inputs without losing yield enhancement and quality.

Bridelia has positioned itself as a leader in the world of modern farming by developing their own unique technologies, production protocols and innovative production methods for sustainable, earth friendly farming operations. .

The vision of Bridelia Group is to stay in the lead with the supply of the quality and quantity of their products for the growing demand of their expanding customer base. All the farms are GlobalGAP, Siza and Unilever accredited and the mission of the group is to stay within their ecologically friendly sustainable way of farming to ensure continued production of the finest quality safe produce for the future.

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