Langkloof fruit farm supports children during early childhood

Photographed at the Matt Zondagh Landgoed crèche, from left to right, are: Lydia Delport, Pieter-Matt Stemmet, Sharon Appels and Verity van Rooyen along with their young learners.

Author Dalene Mathee wrote in Fiela’s Child: “God forgives many things, but God never forgives us the wrong we do to a child. On the one side of the mountain, in the Langkloof, there’s Fiela Komoetie, devoted to her foundling – the child God entrusted to her one night when she found the three-year-old boy crying on her doorstep – a castaway lamb.”

This is a story many people around the world have cherished but for the people in the Langkloof, the area that traverses Uniondale and Joubertina and especially the Zondagh family of Avontuur, on the R62, it is the story written by a family friend who has put the people of the Langkloof, and their stories, on the world’s stage.

Matthys, the first of a long line of Zondaghs arrived in the Cape in July 1730. Matthys the second bought Avontuur in 1765 and hired the farm De Riete Valley which is the present-day Uniondale.

Fast forward to 2018, Pieter-Matt (the short form of Matthys) Stemmet, and his brother Ben-Pierre Stemmet are grandchildren of Matthys Petrus (Matt) along with Matt Zondagh and Kosie Zondagh. They are now farming at Matt Zondagh Landgoed (MZL) with Francois Zondagh, Matthys Petrus’ (Matt) son.

Matt Zondagh Landgoed growers, from left to right, Kosie Zondagh, Pieter-Matt Stemmet, Francois Zondagh and Matt Zondagh.

Pieter-Matt Stemmet and his wife are involved in the crèche where they hold the quote from Fiela’s Child, “God never forgives the wrong we do to a child – close to heart with their commitment to improving the lives of those in their communities and especially those of the children. “The input the children receive in the crèche is proven to be key to their success at school and in later life,” Pieter-Matt says as he shows us around the crèche.

At MZL they grow and pack apples and pears for Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing as well as raise lambs, Merino sheep and Bonsmara cattle. There is also an adjacent sports field which the community is welcome to use.

Most of the staff at MZL have been there for many years. “My father only fired one person and that was because the other workers considered him a trouble-maker and wanted him out,” Francois Zondagh says. “Our staff can live on the farm in the accommodation they have always lived in for as long as they’d like to,” he says, adding that all have power; most have mains electricity but some properties have solar power.

Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing managing director Roelf Pienaar says that having Langkloof growers like the Zondagh family with whom Tru-Cape has had a long-standing and mutually successful relationship makes Tru-Cape’s ability to sell fruit in 104 countries easier. “We rely on fruit from the Langkloof region for its excellent quality and later availability because of the different climate to the rest of the Western Cape,” he concludes. – Press release