The Regional History 

San and Khoi people inhabited the Cederberg area from early times. European settlers began stock farming here early in the eighteenth century, and in 1876 a forester was appointed to oversee crown land in the mountains. This was possibly the first attempt at conservation in the Cederberg. 

A conservancy, of which Grootrivier forms the southern border, was established in 1997.Farmers used the mountains to graze livestock in times of drought, and together with tobacco, this was one of the main farming activities during the first years until about 1965. 

Mount Ceder farm offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy the veld, river and scenery around them as well as observe the working olive farm on the premises.

Today Mount Ceder is a working Olive farm where horses roam, pomegranates and blueberries are grown and even Proteas are harvested in season.

Read more about our farm's fascinating history... (In Afrikaans)

Cultivating Tobacco in the Cederberg

Grootrivier, now known as Mount Ceder, largely owes its economic development to the production of chewing tobacco. Work on the tobacco fields usually commenced in August and September with the preparation of the soil. Fertilizer loads from the goat stalls were off loaded and placed in even rows, and then later manually scattered and worked into the land. Large herds of goats were specially kept and brought into enclosures at night for their manure which could be worked into the fields. Although fertilizer and guano became available in later years, the farmers continued to fertilize with goat manure as they believed the special flavour and "kick" in chewing tobacco was due to dung from
the goat pens. 

After the manure was ploughed, the Tobacco is planted in neat rows. The filed were irrigated and it was absolutely essential that the rows and
irrigation furrows were prepared at the correct fall and angle on the slopes. There was great competition among the farmers regarding their tobacco fields, as a tobacco field was regarded with great honour and pride. 

When the tobacco plants were fully grown at the end of the season,  the whole plant was cut and hung upside down on slats to partially dry. 
Before the leaves were completely dry, the leaves were carefully and individually cut loose from the stem and packed in piles on a concrete floor in the tobacco shed to dry further. During this drying process, the piles of leaves were covered with hessian which would build up heat and cause the leaves to sweat. As a result, they had to be manually turned and tossed twice a day to cool them down. This process was repeated for several days until the leaves were dry and no longer produced heat or sweat. At this stage, the leaves were ready to be plaited into thumb-think plaits and wound onto a large reel. Once the reel was full, the farmer would make tobacco rolls. It was important that each of the rolls be the same size and a certain amount of skill was involved in the process. These rolls were then packaged and sold.

Click here to read the Afrikaans version
Compiled by André Marais – January 2012, please ask us for permission to reuse this article.