Farmers association celebrates centenary

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THE Eastern Border Farmers Association celebrates its centenary this year and will commemorate the milestone with a celebration at the Shaw Park Country Club on November 24.

The association has also compiled a commemorative booklet chronicling the 100-year history, deriving information from the surviving minutes of meetings.

As related in the booklet, in 1917, a group of farmers and interested people gathered in the Community Hall at Shaw Park to discuss the possibility of forming a Farmers/Agricultural Association to serve and advance the interests of the farming community situated in and around the Shaw Park area.

The Eastern Border Agricultural Association was established and a constitution formulated and accepted.

“Considering the timing of this decision, the farmers evidently had great faith in the future. 1917 was in the middle of the First World War and not long after ‘Die Rebellie’ of 1914-1915,” the chroniclers state.

In 1910 South Africa became a Union of States under the British Government of Herbert H Asquith, creating precarious times for the Union of South Africa. However, the community that lived and farmed between the Fish River and Kenton-on-Sea were convinced that the formation of an agricultural association was the right way forward and it was established on May 27.

Many of the larger farms are still owned and operated by descendants of those 1917 association pioneers

Today this association still exists, concerns itself with the wellbeing and welfare of its members and the community and promotes the particular needs of the farmers in the area. It is a thriving community of diverse farmers with beef, dairy, fresh water fish, game, goats, hydroponics, nurseries, pineapples, sheep, tourism farms, vegetables, bamboo and other forms of farming found in the neighbourhood.

Many of the larger farms are still owned and operated by descendants of those 1917 association pioneers whose commitment and vision enriched the lives of the community.

The commemorative booklet has been written in a series of themes so that the reader may follow a topic over the years, rather than in a strict chronological style. Among the topics are animal health, stock auctions, the Pineapple Growers Association, education, community concerns, policing and rural safety, World War 2, droughts and floods, and lime mining.

Among the interesting anecdotes is a mention that early in 1929, smoking had been banned at association meetings. But some members objected to this and immediately set about getting the ruling overturned. “After a somewhat lengthy discussion” the proposition was withdrawn, the minutes report.

Stray cattle is also not a recent problem, as related in the minutes. In 1991, it was reported that a new act had become law and the fine for animals left unattended on roads was R300 and when driving cattle, red flags must be used to warn others of the danger.

The association acknowledged the vision and drive of current chairman Coert Herbst, without whose commitment the booklet would not have been published.

The first 11 years of the minutes are missing, as are the years between 1947 and 1966, and when information not in the minutes was added to explain a point or complete a story, they were careful to put this in italics.

The chief editor of the project was Dr Helen Betts, ably assisted by Cecil Cave Brown, Janet Brown, Anne Harris, Jessica Harris and Samantha Wilde.

The association acknowledged the vision and drive of current chairman Coert Herbst, without whose commitment the booklet would not have been published.

 

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