What was the role and significance of intensive agriculture at the cape during the 1650s and 1660s?
Van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape on 6 April 1652 as an employee of the VOC to spearhead the establishment of the refreshment outpost at the Cape. Central to ensuring a stable supply of refreshments and meat was the acquisition of land to cultivate a garden and rear livestock. A mud and wooden fort was erected in the Table Bay area for shelter and defence. Its vulnerability to the elements such as strong winds and flooding drove the need to build a more permanent structure. In 1652 the VOC granted men permission to own land, build farms and improve food supply and by 1655 some company employees were growing their own vegetable plots near the castle. The vegetable garden also failed to thrive and produce enough food, while reluctance by the Khoikhoi to barter with Dutch settlers deprived them of fresh meat. In 1657 the VOC released some employees from their contracts and granted them freehold rights on lands along the Liesbeeck Valley for them to start farming.