Ode to Oom Toekie Burger from the Nuy Valley

Toekie Burger on the tractor.

Alewyn Petrus Burger is an 87-year-old active farmer in the Nuy Valley area, situated on the R60 between Worcester and Robertson. Oom Toekie, as he is fondly known, and his wife, Elna, 84, have been married for 61 years, and have four children and six grandchildren. His only son, Ben, is the fourth-generation Burger farming on the family farm, De Nuy.

Oom Toekie is the only remaining founding member of the award winning Nuy Winery. He was also appointed vice-chairman and chairman of the board between 1983 and 1997. Nuy Winery celebrates its 53rd year in 2016, and Oom Toekie has borne witness to many of its challenges and successes over the years. “

“Oom Toekie is a living legend. We want to honour him. It has been a privilege to work with him, and his wise words and advice have been central to many of our successes,” says Christo Pienaar, cellar master at Nuy Winery.

Oom Toekie grew up on De Nuy, and it was there, one day on a school bus and as a young boy of 17, he met his future wife, Elna Moller. During their eight years of courtship, his only means of visiting her was a long ride on horseback – and it was only once Elna qualified as professional nurse and started working in Worcester, that they finally tied the knot in 1955.

Oom Toekie often jests that his bride had her hands full treating all his farming cuts and bruises.

He has tried and tested many different types of crop and livestock over the years, but honeybee farming has been the closest to his heart. His bees gather nectar from eucalyptus trees on and around De Nuy, and Oom Toekie takes pride in collecting the honey from the hives himself.

He used to do it barefoot and only wearing shorts, but has since opted for the more traditional and protective white suit, since he suffered a serious sting reaction a year ago. His bees are vital to Tannie Elna’s home remedy for cuts and bruises – Betadine ointment mixed with a generous helping of pure honey.

His honey is also a prime favourite among the locals.

“When Oom Toekie and Tannie Elna visit us, they always bring us some of their prized honey – it never fails to cheer us up,” says Lorraine Viljoen, marketing manager at Nuy on the hill, Nuy Winery’s new tasting venue, deli and restaurant situated at the Nuy Valley turn off.

The Burgers also farm with grapes, lucerne and livestock – and when Oom Toekie is not busy with his honeybees, he plays an active part alongside his son, Ben, in day-to-day running of the farm.

He is fond of story-telling, and has many tales on how farming methods have changed over the years – and he often explains how irrigation methods have progressed from ground ditches dug by shovels, used to guide water to irrigation areas; to cement channels used to distribute water, followed by sprayers that unfortunately wasted a lot of water; to the drip irrigation system used today.

However, one thing that has not changed, is how hard and exhausting farming can be – and this is the main reason

Oom Toekie has decided to start cutting down his responsibilities. However, on one aspect he is adamant. “As long as my pages are still turning, no matter how slow, I want to stay on De Nuy.”