mount Joy Farms
Mount Joy is a family estate situated in the Banhoek Valley, near Stellenbosch, approximately 45 km from Cape Town, South Africa. It is a major producer of plums growing 15 varieties mainly for the export market. The fruit is packed on Mount Joy by our packing company, Banhoek Fruit Packers.
As one of South Africa’s leading plum producers, we lay strict emphasis on food safety. Our philosophy is to implement, wherever possible, environmentally-friendly farming practices. This includes the monitoring of our carbon footprint which compares very favourably with industry standards.
Mount Joy has the reputation of being one of South Africa’s oldest deciduous fruit farms with over 300 years of history. As a business we have stood firm against the inexorable conversion of orchards into the prevalent boutique wine estates of today.
As we live in a world of scarce resources, every effort is made to use these as effectively as possible through the adoption of the best agricultural practices. These practices include all aspects of farming from soil management, water conservation and crop protection to worker health, safety and welfare.
We recognise that our workforce is our most important asset so we support the initiatives of organised agriculture to achieve transformation in the agricultural labour sector and we subscribe to a code of conduct regarding fair employment practices. We have implemented steps to give practical effect to our commitment for the transformation of workers’ rights with regard to housing and community initiatives such as education of workers and their children. Mount Joy has a deep commitment to those who work the soil in this unique valley.
We utilise high-density trellised planting systems. Root stocks are used which have a dwarfing influence on the plum trees. Trellising ensures higher fruit yields, good fruit sizing and colouring as well as less wind damage.
We lay a strict emphasis on environmentally friendly agricultural practices. Leaf and soil laboratory analyses are undertaken regularly to identify any deficiencies in trace elements and to ensure that fertilisers are used only when necessary. Drone technology is also now employed. The irrigation water in our dams and other water sources is also laboratory tested on a regular basis to ensure an acceptable quality. Recognising that water is a scarce resource, computerised irrigation scheduling systems are used to conserve water.
We adopt an Integrated Pest Management approach (IPM) so that pesticides are not applied unnecessarily. This means that there is an ongoing monitoring of orchards for the control of pests and plant diseases.
We grow only plums on Mount Joy and this allows us to specialise in the production of a wide range of cultivars with a focus on Zaiger varieties such as Midnight Gold, Ruby Dawn, Honey Punch and Flavor King. We are committed to growing only the best quality fruit. We comply with strict food safety protocols and have GlobalGap and Tesco Nature’s Choice accreditations. We ensure the traceability of our packed fruit back to the orchard in which it was grown.
Our fruit is picked and handled in accordance with the best orchard practices. The fruit is packed on Mount Joy by our packing company, Banhoek Fruit Packers. At the packhouse the fruit is pre-cooled, packed, cold-stored and containerised. The packed fruit is laboratory tested to ensure that there is compliance with pesticide residue limits as stipulated by GlobalGap, Tesco Nature’s Choice and local regulations. Prior to export, the fruit is inspected by the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) to ensure that the export quality standards are met.
At Mount Joy we seek to ensure the sustainability of our fruit farming operation. We strive to develop and implement farming practices which guarantee the production of quality fruit while reducing our dependence on chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides, thereby protecting our environment.
Water is our principal resource. At Mount Joy we have invested significantly in improving water conservation and storage measures. We employ reduced volume irrigation installations such as microjet and drip irrigation. By means of annual laboratory tests we ensure that our water quality is of a high standard and systems are in place to prevent water contamination from pesticides, nitrates and harmful bacteria. Our water supplies are obtained from rainfall storage that is renewable every winter.
We recognise that healthy soil is a key component of sustainability and we adopt soil management practices to enhance soil quality. We promote the use of organic mulches and composting and, where possible, we avoid the use of chemical fertilisers. We adopt effective methods to prevent soil erosion.
Through proper management and planning we seek to reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy sources such as diesel and other fossil fuels. We take active steps to monitor and reduce our electricity usage. We have established a sustainable recycling program on Mount Joy, not only in an attempt to reduce waste and pollution, but also to instil an awareness of the benefits of waste reduction.
We are at pains to ensure that our labour practices are fair and that our stewardship of human resources includes the provision of acceptable working and living conditions. We consider that we are responsible members of the rural community in which we operate. As we conduct a stable and economically viable business, our family farming enterprise has been in existence for more than 50 years.
GlobalGap (formerly called EurepGap) is a common international standard for farm management practice. It was started in the late 1990s to bring conformity to retailers’ supplier standards. It is the world’s most widely implemented farm certification scheme for good agricultural practices. GlobalGap has definitive rules for growers to follow and each farm is individually audited for compliance on an annual basis.