"Famers of the Future" program helps South Africans learn to live sustainably while also teaching valuable life skills.
In an age when large agribusinesses run many global farming operations, it's essential to teach sustainable farming techniques to new farmers, specifically in African countries where people are more reliant on the land.
A remarkable program called Farmers of the Future in the Greater Kruger region of South Africa focuses on empowering unemployed youth with their own farm. The program webpage says, "We believe in the principals of the saying, rather than giving a man a fish to eat, rather teach him how to fish so he can eat forever."
Participants in the program receive a plot of land to manage and grow vegetables to support their families. The multiphase program not only focuses on sustainability and self-reliance but also on business skills and income generation.
Large groups of international volunteers help do weekly tasks on the farm, such as planting, watering, weeding, and land clearing. The local South African learns to manage a farm and delegate tasks to the volunteers, an essential skill when running a potentially larger operation one day.
When the participants in the program have a surplus of food for their family, they learn the business skills necessary to sell it in a monthly farmers market in town. This next phase of the program not only helps generate income for the farmer, but it establishes a sense of community at the market.
The empowerment and sense of community felt at the farm are energetic, with all the volunteers working to help the individual farmer achieve their goals. Small farms in South Africa, as well as around the world, are essential in creating healthy communities, economies, and environments.
The drone photo in this story has a secondary purpose other than a sense of scale for storytelling. The photo was turned into an aerial map to aid the farmer as a crop rotation and growth monitoring tool, but also as part of a training course to use in Property Management and Design. The potential use for drones in not just environmental storytelling but in agriculture-related business is a new technology that has unexplored potential.