Lessons from Landbouweekliks | Tune in this afternoon | Kom kuier saam

James Kelly was born into a farming family. His father runs a crocodile farm, his father-in-law a dairy operation. But James wanted to carve out his own path in agriculture. When the opportunity to lease land came about, he started planting vegetables. And in a relatively short span of time, built up Southern Block Farming, which supplies broccoli and cauliflower year-round to retailers in KwaZulu-Natal.
Upon hearing the word “Landbouweekliks”, James had knowledge that it was an Afrikaans TV show on farming. After participating in the programme, “… a humble celebration of farmers and farming around South Africa.”
What value do you think exposure of this nature holds for you and your operation?
“The validation that we are doing great things. That what we are doing is worthy of appreciation. It is also great to be able to share this with employees so that they can understand how important their jobs are and make them feel valued and recognised as part of the bigger picture.”
And farmers in general?
“This is an opportunity for our customers to get insight into how we produce the food that ultimately ends up on their table. I think there are a lot of misconceptions with farming and food and what goes into it, so to be able to share our story with pride is really powerful and motivating for us as farmers.”
What misperception do you think people have of the industry and farmers?
“I think people think it is easy to farm and they don’t realise how important things like soil health, choosing the correct varieties, and using the correct fertilisers are. We face a lot of challenges in farming and so to produce the perfect product takes a lot of planning and hard work and a lot of resilience and persistence! There are shortcuts in farming like using chemicals and nasty products, but that doesn’t mean all farmers use them. We care about the quality of the end product more than some people think.”
As a farmer, the slogan you live by (when times are tough, and when times are rosy?)
“Tough times: don’t give up! As farmers we understand there are always going to be tough times and setbacks, but I often have to tell myself not to give up and to just keep going because it can be so rewarding when we get it right. Rosy: Don’t sit down! In farming there’s no time to relax and sit back. Even if things are going well, the weather is always changing, and we need to be prepared.”
And as a dad to the possible next generation farmers in the Kelly bloodline?
“I really hope my kids decide to follow in my footsteps and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. They are surrounded by farming, and they have so much knowledge already. We are very grateful to be able to raise our kids on the farm with this lifestyle and the discipline that comes with farming. I am excited to see who they become as they grow, but farming will always be in their blood no matter what they decide to do.”
AFGRI is a proud sponsor of Landbouweekliks on VIA TV (DStv channel 147), Tuesdays at 17:30; Thursdays at 18:30 and Sundays at 17:00. Tune in to hear more about stories that matter.