In 1990 Annelies van Gaalen immigrated from the oldest and one of the Netherland’s bigger cities to Skeerpoort, a small farming community in the Hartbeespoort dam area. Living in the peace and quiet of the countryside, she soon realized that this was the ideal setting to begin making cheese like the Dutch ‘voorvaders’. It started out as a hobby, but as the demand for Boerenkaas grew, it soon became a successful venture. In 1994 ‘Van Gaalen Kaasmakerij’ was officially registered.
The idea of producing cheese was a good one, but the South African cheese culture was almost non-existing in 1994. ‘Gouda’ and ‘Cheddar’ were basically the only familiar cheese. Education and promotion became a very important part of the cheese farm. Originally cheese was sold at markets and to delicacy shops, supermarkets and restaurants, but these days the cheese is only sold from the farm shop.
In 1996 a Dutch Old Age Home wanted to visit the farm in order to see how cheese was made. A tour was organized, traditional coffee and apple cake were served and a happy crowd left the farm with shopping bags full of cheese. A new line was born; an educational tour that combines a demonstration of the cheese making process with special Dutch cheese tasting on the farm. The educational tour proved to be a success for young and old and it slowly helped to develop a cheese culture in South Africa. All tours were offered in the back garden of the farm house. Guests were sitting under a tree enjoying the hospitality of country life.
More and more visitors came to the farm to buy ‘Boerenkaas’ and in 1999 it was decided that a new building had to be erected in order to accommodate the growing flow of visitors. Erik found an old chicken shed in Natal, fetched the steel construction and started building. The Millennium party was the first opening party of the new building. Hundreds of trees were planted at the same time to provide shade on the terraces and other places on the farm.
Today the farm is humming with activity. Farm animals are entertaining the guests. Besides the farm shop there is a garden restaurant, the cheese production, tours, conferences, weddings, and events and the Magalies MTB trails start at the farm. The river banks host intimate romantic picnics. More than 10 staff members are looking forward to meet you. Check the diary for events taking place in the weekends. The second generation is growing up on the farm, living the dream of good food and care free country hospitality.