Mandaryn’s history begins with coming together of two families, the Meyers who moved to the region in the 1780s and the Waits, who arrived 3 years before the 1820 settlers. It was the marriage of JH Meyer and Elizabeth Wait that was the real beginning of the farm when Highland farm was gifted to the two by Elizabeth Wait’s father as a wedding gift. The farmhouse was finished in 1898, which really anchored in Mandaryn’s history. The area was thick bush, and surveying of the area for irrigation was not an easy task. Without water pumps, a keen understanding of gravity was the only solution to ensure water got to the first trees. These old wooden irrigation pipes still rise to the surface during floods, as a keen reminder of how far the farm has come over nearly 120 years.
Highlands initial orchards were made up of Apples and Pears, yet due to the area’s unique weather system these fruit were eventually scrapped favouring citrus orchards. Warm winters did not favour Apples and Pears like the Western Cape, this unique weather system in the area allowed JH Meyer to grow a very high-quality citrus. This was proven in the export quality fruit, of which won Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals between 1910 – 1937.
Transporting the fruit was no easy task, in fact it was a 7 day round trip from the farm to the port of Port Elizabeth. Ox Wagons would travel to Thornhill in the first day, then making their way to Van Stadens Pass by day two. Greenbushes day 3, and by day 4 they would wait for the buyers outside Port Elizabeth in the Newton park region. Nowadays these deliveries take a few hours by truck and highway.
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JH Meyer and Elizabeth had 6 children over the years, and when he died the farm was split into 6. This time was the beginning of a turning point for the successful farm, produce slowed and the prosperity of the farm was in decline. In 1960 PPC Cement began buying out farms in the area, offers were made to all the Meyer family members. Johan Meyer at the age of 21 insisted he would continue the farming legacy, and with little to no money was able to buy out the family members shares except for one uncle who accepted the offer from PPC, however Johan still managed to rent the farm from PPC almost immediately. Johan took on all these farms that had not seen mechanisation on the farm until Johan’s vision to bring the farm to the ‘Now’ and make it a successful farm again.
Johan’s inspiring vision made Manadryn the first farm to wax on a small scale, and the first to market with cardboard boxes and move away from wooden boxes. Mandaryn’s quality meant it was already an ad hoc supplier to Woolworths in the 80s, and became a fully-fledged supplier in the 90s.
In the 1970s Johan Meyer planted Avos and Peaches, but when Tertius Meyer decided to study at the University of Pretoria (TUKS) and also continue with the family heritage, Johan switched to Naartjies. He planted another 9000 trees, and the farms current 3000 had to support the entire farm for 5 years and when Tertius returned to the farm, it was ready for a new future.
Currently Mandaryn is celebrating a milestone with one of its Orchards still being harvested since 1926, this 90 years achievment of export quality Naartjies is very unique.