Who we are

Located in South Africa’s Limpopo province, Madikwe Berry aims to uplift some of the poorest communities in the country, and to pour our profits back into conservation of Africa’s precious, dwindling wildlife.

Our intention is to do this by growing the best and most desirable blueberries in the world.

Animals like the endangered cheetah are bred at the Madikwe Conservancy Private Game Reserve, with the help of proceeds from the sales of blueberries.

Gemsbok or oryx are native to this area of South Africa but had been shot out. They have been reintroduced and are breeding here again.

A black-backed jackal roaming free on the conservancy adjacent to Madikwe Berry.


Madikwe Berry was started in 2017, but the seeds for the project were sown well before then.

More than 20 years ago, Andrew Torr and Vance Kershner began to buy up old cattle farms in the area, with the idea of returning the veld to its natural state. Many of the farms had been overgrazed, and the animals that had once occurred on them naturally – zebra, giraffe, antelope like kudu, hartebeest and impala – had all been shot out.

Over time, Torr and Kershner bought up a large network of these farms on the eastern boundary of the Madikwe Game Reserve, along the Marico River.

The Madikwe Game Reserve was opened in 1991 and is 750km² (290mi²) in size. It is home to the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino – but also to the highly endangered African wild dog and cheetah, as well as myriad smaller game.

The park was converted from former farmland and the animals reintroduced in Operation Phoenix, one of the largest relocations of animals in history, with thousands of animals brought in. It’s in a malaria-free, semi-arid area on the edge of the great Kalahari Desert and is close to South Africa’s northern border with Botswana. Madikwe is South Africa’s fifth-largest game reserve.

Torr and Kershner turned their network of old cattle farms into a game conservancy, the Madikwe Conservancy Private Game Reserve. They restored the land and reintroduced many of the animals that once occurred here naturally. They dropped some of their fences with the Madikwe Game Reserve, giving the animals in that park more room to roam and providing Big Five access to the conservancy.

They began several key conservation projects, including breeding cheetahs – one of the world's most endangered big cats. And they ran their conservancy meticulously well, ensuring that the land could support the animals on it so that it would never return to being overgrazed and rundown.

But all this required money.

After years of toying with the idea, Torr, Kershner and a third partner, Vic van Eck, decided to start a blueberry farm in the northern section of the conservancy.

They spent months travelling throughout Southern Africa, visiting dozens of blueberry farms to learn about what worked and what didn't. Finally, they designed their farm, on the banks of the Marico River, with the packhouse in the middle to ensure the berries could be picked and packed within 30 minutes – crucial to the quality and lifespan of the berry.

They built a state-of-the-art operation, with the best equipment the world could offer, including a fertigation room (fertigation means a mix of fertiliser and irrigation) that ensures each of thousands of blueberry plants get exactly what they need each day in terms of food and water, and an optical sorter, which photographs each berry 70 times before sorting it and dispensing it into a punnet that a consumer will finally purchase.

They employed dozens of workers – in picking season this increases to hundreds – from four villages in the area. Almost all the people they employed are women, who are the poorest and most marginalised.

Their dream is thus ambitious and inspiring: to grow the best blueberries in the world, to uplift the local communities, and to reinvest profits into the conservation of Africa's wildlife.

My last meal on Earth, I would love it to be a bowl of blueberries with cold cream.

internationally renowned chef René Redzepi

Meet the team

The owners of Madikwe Berry are Andrew Torr, Vance Kershner and Vic van Eck. They are supported by a team of over 60 permanent Madikwe Berry employees, and many more seasonal workers during the picking season.

Andrew Torr

Andrew Torr is a former stockbroker and entrepreneur who has had a passion for the African bush since childhood.

Victor van Eck

Vic van Eck has a background in landscaping and horticulture, and a degree in chemical engineering.

Vance Kershner

Vance Kershner is CEO and founder of LabWare Inc, which develops software for laboratories.

More about us

Madikwe Berry Corporate Video