Being the photographer for NPO Harry Gwala Agri has been an incredibly inspiring and rewarding journey for me because of the people I meet through it and the operations I get to learn about and photograph. Harry Gwala Agri is a non-profit agricultural organisation that aims to uplift and facilitate growth among aspiring farmers. It’s members are made up of local commercial farmers in the Harry Gwala district and it’s funders are local companies linked to agribusiness and agricultural development. Together, Harry Gwala Agri provides mentorship opportunities and skills development to aspiring farmers and agricultural students in their final year of studies as well as partnering with commercial enterprises and community projects.
This week I went to see Paul and Sarah Reynolds, owners of Olivar Farm in the Ixopo/Umzimkulu area. Paul and Sarah have many things in common, but one of their mutual passions in life is ‘education;’ to learn and share what they have learned, to educate and ‘upskill,’ and in doing so, uplift the local community and enable them to go further when it comes to employment, self-development or starting their own commercial enterprises. There is a culture of learning and sharing knowledge here and with that comes ‘growth!’
I thought I’d be no more than a couple hours photographing the operations at Olivar Farm and interviewing their Harry Gwala Agri In-training program student Sanele, but I ended up spending the whole morning here and not only leaving with photographs and content, but with a whole lot more knowledge! I learned so much in just one morning. So when I think of what the Harry Gwala Agri In-training Student program can offer an individual over a number of months, I understand the value in this program. This coming week I will be focusing on Olivar Farm and all things happening on this farm in the way of learning and new agricultural developments.
To start, we must start at the very beginning…with the children!
Paul and Sarah built the Olivar Farm Preschool in 2018. They had noticed how many of their farm workers did not have a matric, could not read or write or do maths and they recognised how important ‘early education’ is, how it’s the foundation to build a future on.
Olivar Farm Preschool
Right now, there are 27 registered students at the Olivar Farm Preschool and it’s grown in that the children who attend are not only the children of the farm workers but children from the local community too.
Simple things like paper, crayons and pens are a novelty for many schools. Having the opportunity to be creative is just one of the things Olivar Farm Preschool offer their students.
In 2019, Olivar Farm built their first classroom. Funding was received by Harry Gwala Agri for this structure – the first of 3 classrooms that have since been built.
For more information on Olivar Farm, Click here
Next up, I’ll be posting about the Harry Gwala Agri In-service training program that happens on Olivar Farm and then the fascinating business of ‘worm tea’ and how it’s being used as an alternative to fertiliser!
Lianne Ashton Photography©2022
About Lianne Ashton
Lianne is a photographer based in KZN, South Africa. Her work mostly focuses on agriculture, in particular – the human element of agriculture. She creates people-centric photography for organisations and businesses, capturing the processes of an operation and the people in their work environment.
Contact Lianne to find out more about her photography services