SMART SMALLHOLDERS From retirement project to leading cheesery F inding themselves with time on their hands at retirement, Norman and Rina Belcher founded The Belnori Boutique Cheesery ~ now 15 years old ~ which has grown to become one of the top cheeseries in South Africa. The Belchers' success on their 15 acre smallholding in Nest Park, lies in Swiss Saanen goats and a lot of hard work. Upon his retirement, Norman Belcher looked to start a project on their property and Ouklip underlay drove Norman Belcher to choose livestock over crops on his Bapsfontein retirement plot ~ today he milks 230 goats daily very quickly decided that the ouklip bedrock upon which the property was situated meant only livestock produc- tion would be suitable. Soon after, Norman went on a short course in nearby Springs learning animal husbandry and how to make feta cheese. In the meantime, his wife Rina continued working fulltime in the financial services industry. The Belchers began with four goats. They hand-milked the mothers and bottle fed the kids. Today, they milk 230 goats twice a day and employ #SAFoodCrisis From page 11 as patronising and conde- scending by the participants. For middle-class South Africans modern townhouse and security clusters also don't lend themselves to vegetable and food produc- tion. Rural South Africans, also, face challenges in home food production. In many rural areas it is the elderly who are left at home tending the grandchildren while the productive generation is away in the cities and such elderly often lack the strength and vigour for the rigours of gardening 12 www.sasmallholder.co.za 13 staff. Their goats are the popular Swiss Saanen breed. Because of the prevalence of this breed in South Africa, it is easier for small-scale farmers like the Belchers to ensure a pure bloodline. The goats breed seasonally with all of the females being covered by April at the latest. After a five- month gestation, birthing season begins around August, Continued on page 15 on a productive scale. K If you want a fuller exposition of the crisis in the South African food sector, read Dr Tracy Ledger's 2016- published work entitled An Empty Plate, published by Jacana and available at bookstores and online.