Harvesting peas


Wealth comes from the soil.

With only a single tipper truck to his name, Peter made his dream of becoming a farmer a reality. For nearly two years he relentlessly kept at it. De-bushing and removing stone upon stone to clear up the land which in March 2016 would yield 250 tons of yellow maize. Shortly after, come Spring, Peter gave life to nature’s most time-conscious vegetable: peas. And how perfect they were. After two successful crops Peter’s farming journey has only really just begun, but the stories that brought him here will last forever.

“Harvesting the corn was such an experience. My first crop, I was filled with pride.”

Knowing little about agriculture, Peter found mentorship in the local farming community. “There are good people here,” Peter says, and tells the story of how Lukas, his neighbour, brought his own tractors to help him plant his corn and peas.

But Peter hadn’t always dreamt of becoming a farmer. He had other dreams too. He started out his career as a primary school teacher who cherished a hope of one day hearing his own voice on radio.

A calm, confident voice that in 1976 won him a spot on Radio Lebowa at the SABC, and the nickname Papa Spanner. In 1990 Peter became the first black head of radio and left six years later to initiate his next aspiration: owning his own business. Peter realised that he would have to do more with his life to be able to put his five children through school. And, with his successful brickmaking business, African Sands, he did just that.

A teacher, a radio personality, a businessman and now a farmer, it almost makes you wonder what other career moves could still be up his sleeve. “I’ve always enjoyed everything I did, in life,” Peter says. But there is a flicker in his eye when he speaks about his farm. He says his ancestors had a saying, Lehuma lets̆wa tšhemong (Wealth comes from the soil), and looking at his farm now, he realises the truth in it.

“When you see a seed that you’ve planted emerge from the soil, you know you did something right. And you follow its progress, you see it changing, you see the field changing and you ask yourself, what miracle is this, what is happening in this plant? It was just a seed? But something changed the seed. The miracle that only God can make.”

Image: Harry de Zitter

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