Life on the Farm

The man who put dinner on the table.

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If the record is four tons, I want to harvest five.

Sometimes we all forget where our food comes from. Not the supermarket – we mean before it got there. It starts with a guy like Hannes, one of our farmers in Marble Hall who supplies us with top quality vegetables.

On the farm Sudami in Groblersdal, the beauty of linear perspective unfolds in front of your eyes. It can be found in the perfectly neat rows of carrots with their striking fernlike tresses. And in the immaculate rows of corn, beans and peas. Even the rolling koppies seem to fall into line –making it a very tidy picture indeed.

This is the farm that Hannes’s family has owned since 1998. Here, you’ll not only find sweetcorn, peas and vegetable crops all year round, but also Hannes’s other passion: game.

“I believe in consistency. But you have to be persistent in your consistency,” says Hannes.

Hannes’s perfectionism, unstoppable competitive spirit and his obsession with a paper trail have made him the successful farmer he is today.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, two days are okay, but a week is too long,” says this farmer with tractor-loads of energy.

“If the record is four tons, I want to harvest five,” he says. “I want to break records.” But adds that although it is good to be strong-minded sometimes, it can also be his Achilles heel.

Luckily his family is there to keep him sane. Hannes’s wife, Rileen, has a calmness that helps to chill him out. And his two boys (aged 2 years and 2 months) quickly put things back into perspective too. In the tough game of farming it is the support on the home front that makes it all worthwhile.

“A farmer is a breed,” confesses Hannes. It isn’t for men and women looking for an eight to five job because the challenges and risks associated with the farming industry do not keep office hours. A lazy Sunday at home – think again. “If the transmission of a pivot breaks on a Sunday, you can’t call Ghostbusters,” he jokes.

Hannes learned early on that it is a recipe for disaster to be too focused on the rand per hectare price rather than what is happening on the ground.

“If you’ve done everything from your side as productively and precisely as possible and you’ve kept your focus where it should be, you don’t have to worry. The money will come.”

At the end of the day, for Hannes, being a farmer means to do it for the love of growth and the reward of a successful harvest. “A harvest that has success in it can motivate you for the next season.”

That is why on some nights, well after his staff has gone home, you’ll find Hannes on a tractor, preparing his fields, dreaming of his next frontier.

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And thanks Harry de Zitter for making Hannes look like a pea farmer in a million.

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