Her dad surprised her nightly with a bunch of small white flowers—just enough to fit into her tiny palm.
“He called them snesies. It is a memory I recall more fondly than any other,” says Gabouw-born Beverley-Anne Joseph.
“This simple act brought me happiness. Through my career as an adult this memory would drive me to find innocent beauty and happiness in every moment.”
Last year she made headlines for becoming South Africa’s first black, female hops farmer at the young age of 32.
Situated near George, Zelpy is a 50 hectare farm that produces around 20ha of bittering and flavour hops used in beer.
“My journey was difficult, but not unique if you’re a woman or a person of colour trying to gain access to this industry.”
Joseph believes that perseverance might ultimately have swung the outcome for her.
While still a learner, she physically drove from farm to farm and approached farmers and business people. That’s how she first met Dr Paul Cluver.
“I did not know it was his farm at the time, but was taken by how intently he listened to me and my story.
“During this moment, the fact that someone actually listened to me, meant much more than the possibility of tuition.”
Funded by Dr Cluver, Joseph went on to complete a Bachelors in Agriculture (Viticulture and Oenology), followed by an Honours in Oenology and an MScAgric in Agronomy at Stellenbosch University.
During this period she received a call from SA Breweries with an offer to join their hop breeding programme.
“The historical significance of hops and the unique manner of cultivating the crop in South Africa sparked a love affair early on in my career.
“I’m proud to have been part of a team that released three new highly sought after flavour varieties—a first in South Africa, since the industry had until then only focused on bittering hops.”
It was through the SAB Thrive Fund that she was eventually able to become the owner of Zelpy.
“These types of programs are incredibly important. They serve as a bridge between an industry that has experienced transformation at a greater pace, and others that have not.
“These funds create market access to a broad spectrum of entrepreneurs, including SMEs, medium, micro, black owned, and black woman owned businesses.
“In turn, by building and supporting a strong and diverse supply chain through the growth of these businesses, we can better address inequality.”
- By Steyn du Toit -