This mission village was established in 1824 on the well-watered bank of the Nuwejaars River in the Sandveld area. It is named after an oasis mentioned in the Bible (Exodus 15:27). The need for the establishment of a new mission station arose because Genadendal and Mamre on the West Coast were full. The land was purchased from a farmer who had bought it from Sampson Dyer (the son of an American slave). Adjacent land was later bought directly from Dyer to accommodate an influx of new members owing to the ending of slavery in 1834.
A visit to this village reveals a place preserved in time with historical buildings and a traditional way of life. For 150 years, Elim’s main source of income was dried Sewejaartjies (Everlasting flowers) used for funerals and by churches in Europe. The petals were also used as pillow and mattress stuffing. The introduction of pigs to this community in 1930 by a German started the well-known Elim processed meat business. Another business that Elim is known for is thatching: their thatchers are renowned throughout South Africa and abroad.
Elim is the only place in South Africa with a monument dedicated to freed slaves. Elim is one of the places with the most flower species in South Africa. A flower festival is hosted every second year.
The biggest wooden wheel at any water mill in the country is in Elim.