Historic Property and Novel Crops

The NTZ (the Trust) would like to congratulate Organic Africa, in conjunction with La Rochelle Centre, on the recent official opening of their organic herbal tea factory at La Rochelle which is a Trust site in Penhalonga (the Shona word Panoronga meaning “the place that shines) situated in the Imbeza valley.

Mr D.Collenburg  of Organic Africa watching, Mr D.Karoro Hon. Deputy Minister of Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement cutting the green ribbon of the opening of the tea factory

On their way to the tea factory representatives from the Trusts Executive Council stopped to admire the bright orange Calendula flowers at one of the trial herb plots.

Left to right: Mrs Fira Bache NTZ, Mr Kevin Martin Organic Africa, Mr D.Karoro Hon. Deputy Minister of Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement and Ms Gill Honeyman (NTZ Chair of Worlds View).  Mr G Cary (NTZ Chair of the Nyanga Museum) also attended

At the tea factory guests were welcomed and given a tour of the facility which began at the drying area where the tea leaves are delivered after picking. The dried leaves are then processed by brand new, state of the art leaf processing equipment imported from Serbia.

Leaf processing equipment

The processing machine is fast and efficient: the leaves are threshed and then partly separated from the stems. The leaves are fed into the vibration separator where they are sieved by vibrating screens and separated based on their size.

The equipment has environmental ‘green’ advantages as it uses left over unwanted exotic timber, from managed plantations in the area, to provide the energy source. Any particulate dust from the procedure is collected and re-used in the process.

The finished premium tea leaves are packaged in bulk, certified organic and exported. They are blended by clients in Europe where there is a high demand for herbal teas and a percentage is kept for the local market.

La Rochelle Organics Herbal Tea

Delegates joined together for a celebratory photograph.

Left to right:Mr D.Collenburg Organic Africa, Mrs S Waterworth NTZ, Mr U.Volz German Ambassador, Mr D.Karoro Hon. Deputy Minister of Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Mr N.Jager Swiss Ambassador, Mr I.Craig ARDA Board Chairman,   Mrs B. Mtetwa International Trade Foreign Ministry, Mr Machocho  The National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Department of Research and Specialist Services within the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation  Development

Guests were then taken into the packing area and treated to a tea tasting event where they could sample some of the delicious herbal teas made at La Rochelle including rosella, a species of hibiscus, and Melissa, a member of the mint family, also known as lemon balm.  Afterwards everyone took a seat and warmly welcomed by Domink Collenburg Organic Africa CEO opening speech followed by speeches from Mr Volz, the German Ambassdor, Mr Jaeger the Swiss Ambassador and Mr Douglas Karoro the Hon. Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement.  All the speakers agreed that the commissioning of the tea factory offered so much for the county and they all welcomed the innovative project and gave it their support.  The project provides an opportunity for over 5,000 small-scale organic out growers and wild collectors not only to contribute to the Zimbabwean economy but also uplift themselves and their communities in the process.

The successful project was achieved through a Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) that acted as a mechanism to use the Trusts resources (the property) and investment and expertise of the private sector to manage it. The private partnership is with La Rochelle Centre (Pvt) Ltd who refurbished La Rochelle hotel to a high standard and Organic Africa who is making good use of an area of the estate grounds to build infrastructure and establish new services: growing herbal teas, to bring in finance: a new solution to an old problem. Organic plants are a much higher value crop than the traditional crops being grown in Zimbabwe.

The event was covered by ZBCTV and featured in various local newspapers including:

Biggest herbal tea factory commissioned

Mega herbal tea plant launched in Penhalonga


After the speeches guests were served an excellent lunch on the west verandah of La Rochelle overlooking the manicured formal gardens and arbour with the magnificent mountains providing a majestic  backdrop on the horizon.  The hotel is a link to the past: full of history and stories and an oasis of tranquility and charm.  A few of the guests then went for an afternoon stroll around the Dell and woodland.  The grounds are looking particularly beautiful at this time of year with many orchids, aloes and succulents in flower and a stunning collection of colourful Azaleas in full bloom nestled in-between old, magnificent looking trees.  Then it was back to the hotel for afternoon tea.

The arbour, a popular wedding venue

The lake in the dell



Azaleas in the dell                               





Contact the La Rochelle Centre

You can contact the La Rochelle Centre for any queries or bookings:


Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.