Ceres – It’s Not Just About the Fruit

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Named after the Roman Goddess – Ceres - a name synonymous with fertile land and the growing of foods and grains according to Roman and Greek mythology, the Ceres Valley in the Western Cape has truly lived up to its namesake.

One of the largest fruit-producing districts in South Africa, this fertile valley has produced “A” grade deciduous fruit for export to all corners of the globe for decades. The Ceres Fruit Juice brand alone has been producing and exporting produce to 84 countries in Africa, Europe, the Far East, Asia and North America since the early 1980s.

Situated 127Km north east of Cape Town in the heart of the Cape winelands, Ceres is the gateway to the Cedarburg area to the north, and Route 62 to the South. The area is often referred to as “little Switzerland”, due to the snow capped mountain ranges that surround the valley in the winter months with temperatures reaching approximately 30°C in the summer and just above freezing in winter months. Capetonians flock to Ceres in the winter to pick fruit and cherries at the legendary Klondyke cherry farm just outside Ceres.

This Garden of Eden is home to some of the best 4x4 trails, mountain bike trails, game drives and freshwater fishing spots in one of the most beautiful regions in South Africa. A well-visited tourist destination, the area offers a whole host of activities and accommodation for those who visit this prestigious valley. Being a predominant fruit-farming area, there are a number of smallholdings and farms on the market in Ceres, and an internet search revealed that the prices for smallholdings in the area start from R1.9m up to R33m for a 150ha fully operational fruit farm.

On the residential front, recent statistics released by Lightstone reveal that there have been a total of 49 sales in Ceres over the last 12 months. Demand for freehold property, it seems, has dominated the market in the area for many years and very few sectional title units have been sold in the area since 2005. The number of properties that have been sold since 2005 has declined from 168 in the same period, to 49 property sales in 2010. Prices averages on the other hand have steadily increased from R270 000 in 2005 to R732 000 in 2011.

Property owners who have resided in the area for longer than 11 years make up 55% of the population, and an influx of younger purchasers made up 24% of recent purchasers who fall in the age category of 18-35 years. Of the 49 sales that were concluded, 43 of these purchasers required a mortgage bond, with an average value of R768 000.

The Ceres valley is not only famous for the fruit and fresh goods it produces. The valley has also “grown” some of South Africa’s finest Springbok rugby players. De Wet Barry, Ramond Mordt and Breyton Paulse all originate from Ceres. Another famous former resident was Christiaan Barnard, the world famous cardiologist who performed the world’s first heart transplant. Professor Barnard who grew up in Beauford West, studied medicine at the University of Cape Town before opening a general medical practice in the town.

Although the first settlers arrived in the valley as early as 1729 and established stock farms, it was only a year after Michell’s Pass was completed in 1848 that the first plots were sold in Ceres. The road utilised by those seeking their fortunes in the diamond fields in the north passed through the famous town. Today the route which is now known as the Forgotten Highway has developed into a major tourist attraction.

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