When I drove down the dusty, hoof-trodden road to the dairy, I was surrounded by a herd of  dairy cows on their way to the pastures. It was a happy kind of road block, when you don’t mind being held up for a while! It was a typical ‘dairy farm’ experience, where cows are the business, and you have no option but to wait for them to pass. The herdsmen waved at me jovially as they ushered the cows forward. I thought to myself, in the couple minutes of waiting for dairy cows to investigate my car mirrors and wheels, then grow bored and move on, that Olivar farm is very much a happy place.

I take my hat off to Ixopo local farmers, the Reynolds. Their dairy farm is abuzz with exciting new developments in the way of community and employee development. Paul and Sarah have generously given a huge amount of their own time to uplifting those around them. Sarah has started a pre primary school on her farm for their employees. They have employed a full time teacher for the school. Sarah also gives the young students English and reading lessons. Education is paramount to an individuals development and future. Paul and Sarah are passionate about this and are regularly offering their staff the opportunity to enroll in various courses and so ‘better’ their future and well being.

On this day, I was here for the Harry Gwala Agri Mentorship program. Harry Gwala Agri is a local non profit organisation that assists with the placement of agriculture TVET students on various commercial farms. Our local farmers offer a 6 month mentorship program to selected students. The students get to experience various farm operations and gain practical experience which their course requires.

In this case, I met student Lindelwa Mafu. Lindelwa is a TVET student based on Olivar Farm. She was busy fixing an old tractor when I arrived. A vintage tractor by the looks of it, but one that just keeps on going! I have full respect for anyone with a mechanical ability, mostly because ‘mechanics’ is something completely foreign to me and my mechanical skill-set is very much lacking. I’m yet to be successful at changing a tyre and I dread the day I get a puncture without my husband around!!! (Have I just jinxed myself???)

And so, as you can imagine, I was quite in awe of Lindelwa. She made it very clear to me that it was the local farm mechanic who had taught her what she now knows. I saw a student that was motivated, hungry for knowledge and competent, a student with a great future ahead of her.

Harry Gwala Agri student program

Harry Gwala Agri student program

Harry Gwala Agri student programHarry Gwala Agri student program

For this shoot, Paul took the opportunity to teach Lindelwe about soil sampling.

Soil Sampling at Olivar Farm

Soil Sampling at Olivar Farm

Soil Sampling at Olivar FarmHarry Gwala Agri

Soil Sampling at Olivar Farm

When anyone starts photography, there is usually a subject that inspires them. For me, it’s always been telling someone’s story and being outdoors. It’s capturing someone doing something that they love or that they are good at or a way of life. My particular story started when we were living in central Mozambique, and I started the blog Africa far and wide. It is a social documentary blog with occasional travel and personal features. Now I find myself back in South Africa and drawn to agriculture. I guess it’s the outdoor nature of this photography that draws me, the familiarity and storytelling it requires. And of course it’s meeting your most down to earth, hands on, good people! My aim is to bring you the positive stories in Africa 🙂

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