Our History

Dr Hans Merensky, born on 16 March 1871, was a famous prospector and geologist, humanitarian, devotee of nature, afforestation and agriculture, and a visionary of his time.

He died on 21 October 1952. In a brilliant career of close on 50 years of active field work, Dr Merensky achieved an international reputation as an outstanding analytical geologist.

Dr Merensky on the Westfalia Estate

By establishing a Trust in 1949, Dr Merensky hoped to combine the two things dearest to him: first, the assured perpetuation of his work on Westfalia Estate’s agricultural, horticultural and forestry resources, so that the great strides he had made with water and soil conservation, the reclaiming and revitalisation of the soil, and the welfare of his staff, could be continued. Second, South Africans as a whole had to benefit from the activities of the Trust, which in 1973 became the Hans Merensky Foundation. The HM Foundation provides bursaries for the education and training of students, and grants and loans to individuals or institutions to carry out research in fields ranging from agriculture and forestry.

The vision of our founder, Dr Hans Merensky, has guided us over the past 70 years in our commitment to being a responsible agribusiness that cares passionately about the quality of our produce, the environment where it is grown or processed, and the specific needs of our customers. Dr Hans Merensky, who acquired Westfalia Estate in 1929, reclaimed the overgrazed and poorly-managed land by removing exotic species and re-establishing indigenous plant species. During his lifetime he experimented with many environmentally-sustainable agricultural systems, such as composting, and the success of these initiatives helped shape the environmental ethos of the company, which has been maintained ever since.