Harvesting potatoes


Hy wil nie gejaag wees nie.

Meet Joe. King of the potato field. Giant of the Groblersdal community. Man of the land – and master of it.

Joe’s been farming since he was just a lad. At 19, he rolled up his sleeves and started turning the soil on his father’s farm in Limpopo Province, and he’s been going at it ever since. Joe’s been in the game since 1976, in fact, and in his 21 years of farming potatoes, he’s learnt a thing or two about this crop. Chiefly, that ‘boerdery is nie maklik nie.’

That’s for sure. It takes the spirit of a marathon runner. Resilience. Acceptance.

With a deep determination and a bottomless well of patience, Joe gets a lot done – but he does things in his own good time.

‘Hy wil nie gejaag wees nie,’ confides his wife Annemarie, who offers a few clues about this reserved man with kind, emotional eyes.

A face etched with smile lines.

Joe’s a farmer who stays young by being genuinely interested in the young people who flock to him for conversation, advice, and more often than not, to laugh so much that it hurts.

When he’s not ploughing, planting, irrigating and harvesting the many hectares of crops under his watch, you’ll find him playing touch rugby with the ‘Golden Oldies’ – a team comprised of other neighbouring farmers and friends. Or perhaps casting a line out someplace beside an ocean or a river. (Joe is partial to a spot of fishing – but please, never in a boat.)

There’s load shedding, there’s El Niño, there’s drought, there uncertainty – heaps of it. Come what may, Joe’s feet are firmly planted in his Limpopo potato fields.

And when the season’s harvest is out of the ground, the chips are in your freezer, and it’s possible to squeeze in some timeout with friends and family, where would Joe’s ultimate escape be?

Maybe at a rustic beach bar in Xai Xai, or in a gurgling Jacuzzi overlooking the sea in Mozambique. Next to a braai, close to a cooler box, overlooking a warm, still reef. Paradise.


Image: Harry de Zitter


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