Merwida Opens Community Centre

Monday, 11 June, 2018
WOSA Blog, Julia Moore
Many years of saving, planning and hard work has resulted in an impressive new community centre for the Merwida wine farm in Rawsonville.

“As far as I know, Fairtrade is the only accreditation organisation that actually gives money back to the workers,” explains farm owner Pierre van der Merwe. “So when we got our accreditation in 2009 and the premium money started coming in, we started dreaming about what we would like to achieve that would benefit all who live and work here.”

Merwida is a large farm, with different communities living at different locations around the farm. But they all have similar needs, so a community centre seemed the most effective way of meeting those needs.

Planning began in 2011 as the Joint Body Committee began to formulate the needs of the 160 farm workers and their families, and figure out how to raise funds. The premiums they received back from retailers who sold their wines was substantial but not enough to cover the costs of a R7millon building project, so one of their main customers, Co-op, agreed to match their efforts. The farm itself donated the land, undertook the electrical work and the earthmoving operations.

Over the next 5 years they watched their bank account grow and formed a clear plan for their centre. A location was picked in the middle of the farm and the necessary application procedures started. In 2017 building started and the project gained momentum.

Read full article