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Tru-Cape author to read at Somerset West Library in March.

As part of the Friends of the Library programme, author Buks Nel and illustrator Ros Nel will read excerpts from their book, People, Pears and the Stories they Share, at the Somerset West Library on Thursday, March 16 at 6pm.
Nizam Bray, Principal Librarian: Somerset West Library (located on the corners of Victoria and Andries Pretorius Street, Somerset West), says the library regularly hosts writers who read and discuss their books. “This will be the first book discussion about pears,” says Bray, “And we look forward to learning about some of the pear tree stories as if told by the trees themselves.”
This is the third fruit book by Buks Nel and colleague Henk Griessel. Both men work for Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, the largest marketer of South African apples and pears and headquartered in Somerset West. The other books, Apples in the Early Days at the Cape and The Newcomers and their Friends will also be available to purchase and lending copies will be in the library too.
As Tru-Cape’s New Variety Specialist Buks Nel’s job is to find new and improved apple and pear cultivars. But, as he says, “if you don’t know where you come from how can you know where you are going?” In the search for new fruit, he has rediscovered the old and Nel and Griessel established heritage orchards in Grabouw and in Ceres of varieties no longer in commercial production to save their genes for future generations.
Ros Nel, an artist and long-time Somerset West resident, illustrated the book and will share the reading with Buks, her husband.
Buks Nel says that most alumni of Stellenbosch University are proud of their Die Eikestad – “Oak Tree City.” Oak-lined streets are as much part of Stellenbosch as the maroon of the Maties’ rugby jerseys but, other towns and villages may have their streets lined with willows or thorn trees. In the early days in Beaufort West no tree could be removed unless another one, preferably a pear, was quickly planted to take its place. Today Beaufort West is festooned in pear trees.
According to Nel, a pear tree played a special role in the bootleg Witbliz distilled in Calitzorp and the details are shared in the book. The Wild Asian pears of Nieu Bethesda are detailed along with the oldest still producing Beurre Hardy pear orchard, planted many years ago and perfectly maintained by Elsenberg Agricultural College, in Stellenbosch.
The calabash pear in Worcester’s Beckhuis may also be among the oldest.
The book explains the stories behind the oldest and second oldest pear trees in South Africa. “The oldest is a well-known matter of public record,” says Nel and still stands in The Company’s Garden in Cape Town. But, to learn about the second oldest tree you will have to join us on the night,” Nel winks.
Books will be available for sale on the night at R250.
There is no charge to attend the reading but please RSVP to or notify the library directly on 021 400 4820 or

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