One of the most vital aspects of a working farm is the morale and welfare of its staff. The existence of the Summerhill Trading Store plays an important role in this. Not just serving as a supply source for Summerhill staff, the store also acts as a meeting and focal point for everyone attached to the farm. The Trading Store acts as a “newspaper” of sorts to the staff, as notices from management and upcoming events are posted on the noticeboard. To illustrate this point the farm recently held its annual Stallion Day which was attended by well over 400 people, and photographs of the day and the staff were posted on the board for the staff to see. There was great excitement and laughter as the staff searched for their pictures. Recent additions to the board include various action shots of the Summerhill soccer team in action and track riders working the Ready to Race draft.
Being situated some distance from the town of Mooi River, it is often somewhat difficult for the staff to travel from Summerhill into the town. They have to rely on transport, and frequent trips can prove expensive. The Trading store is therefore extremely convenient. It stocks a wide variety of goods from frozen chicken pieces, bread, milk and canned goods, to a variety of different drinks, and sweets. The staff can also buy furniture at the store in the form of DVD players and stoves, the big advantage being that staff can make repayments over a period of time with interest-free terms. Another bonus for the staff is that in addition to their salary they receive a monthly ration in the form of food, again this negates a lengthy trip into town to purchase these items.
The familiar and friendly face of the Trading Store is Welcome Mbatha, who has been with Summerhill for many years. Welcome started off as the driver for Summerhill and worked his way up to his present position. When asked what makes the Trading Store such an integral part of the Summerhill community he responded:
“The most important aspect for the staff is the fact that they can purchase these goods without paying interest. They also don’t have to leave the surrounds of the farm.”
Welcome feels that the Trading Store and its staff provide an important service to the staff in this respect and says, “I am very pleased to be part of it”.
Welcome’s assistant is Joyce Kunene.
Story by MEGAN ROMEYN.