The aim of the Freedom Road housing project was to create a situation whereby permanent workers of Backsberg could acquire title to their own homes free of substantial debt. That aim has been achieved.
The project saw two wines released under the Freedom Road label in 1998. These wines were primarily sold to the UK supermarket group Tesco.
The history of agricultural housing was that if you lost your job you lost the right to live on the farm. For us at Backsberg it was important to break down this tradition and ensure that Backsberg staff had the freedom to choose where they wanted to work without being concerned about the issues relating to housing.
In the process, people were enabled to acquire, for the first time, a substantial tangible asset. Given the many inequalities of South African society we saw this project as a wonderful opportunity to shift wealth to previously disadvantaged communities.
At Backsberg we feel that we have three options when reviewing our position in South Africa, namely: Evaporate, Emigrate or Participate! We believed then and we continue to believe that participation is the only viable option.
The funding of the housing project was a three-way partnership between our workers, government and Backsberg. The contributions of the three parties can best be summarised as follows:
- The government through the housing subsidy scheme made available to first time homeowners.
- The workers for their care, supervision and management of 14ha of leased vineyards.
- Backsberg for bridging finance, winemaking and marketing skills and the making available of land on which to build the houses.
The choice of the name Freedom Road was inspired by the title of Former President Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom and the concept of “Freedom” from tied housing encompassed in this project. The first bottle released was signed by Mr Nelson Mandela at the Tynhuis in Cape Town.