By: Tebogo Mokwena
When Linda March stood in for her father when he fell ill, she never looked back. At that time in 2008, farming was largely a restricted space for women and young people. However, she was spurred on by her love for farming and her desire to prove that she too could do it. March’s farm, Linda M Produce, was founded in 2019 after she had been farming ostriches on her father’s land for less than eight years.
She explained to Vutivi News her first farming experience was when she volunteered on her father’s farm and helped him vaccinate the livestock, amongst other activities. “At that time, I was in Tshwane and was doing consultation,” the farmer said. “My father asked me to represent him in one of the farming organisations he was a part of. “I learned of the opportunities available for young people, so my interest grew, and this was in 2008.” March, who is in the small mixed farming town of Petrusburg in the Free State, said her dad gave her 10ha of land to farm ostriches. She also received the livestock from him.
However, she dropped out of ostrich farming because she could not access the full value chain. “I decided to pivot, and because the land we were farming on belonged to my family, I applied for my own farm and acquired one in 2019,” she said. She started doing mixed farming including cattle and sheep, which she supplies to local markets, and abattoirs and sells at auctions. “Because the area the farm is located in has a lot of water, I decided to add vegetable farming,” she said.
“We currently farm vegetables which include tomatoes, cabbage, spinach and carrots, and fruit like figs, strawberries and apricots, which we supply to local sellers.” March also said that they produced pickled goods such as tomato relish, pickled cabbage and pickled beetroot. She has two full-time employees, and 10 casual employees during planting season. Like many other farmers, one of her main challenges is access to funding and markets. She has come up with her own solution.
“We tried selling our produce to municipal markets, but it took a long time for them to pay,” she said. “We then tried to supply a few local supermarkets, but we were not satisfied with the pricing they offered. “We decided to create our own market, which we are in the process of,” March said. “In spite of all of this, I am happy that I was able to acquire my own land because this is one of the most difficult challenges many farmers face.” March has her sights on sunflower farming next. “Our aim is to manufacture our own oil,” she said.