In 2008, I visited Steph’s farm in the north of South Africa where I continue to document the gentle shifts of farm life over time and the seasonal harvesters as they travel in and around Heidelberg in search of ‘Khakibos’.
As with the seasons, the farm comes to life during the winter months with men and women from the surrounds and Lesotho making the journey in need of work. These images are part of an ongoing series exploring the natural processes that take place to produce a product that can be shared within the community, in a country where an economy has been gravely affected by high unemployment.
BioAfrica was founded by Steph Hartung in 1999 and specializes in the contract farming of Biofuel Crops and Essential oils. The ‘Khakibos’, a weed that grows freely on un–cultivated farmland is a high yield high return crop. The Natural oils are extracted from the plant to make a variety of products including creams and perfumes.
The BioAfrica cosmetic range has created over 350 jobs for disadvantaged South Africans where individual consideration is given to members from deprived communities including woman, the elderly and disabled. With the opportunity of sole distributor rights for the sale of BioAfrica products to people living in townships around South Africa, this is an exciting opportunity for local entrepreneurs wanting access to regular income and economic opportunity.
BioAfrica and its harvesters have faced enormous challenges with regards to financing its projects over the last several years. Although numerous governments and companies were approached for funding many believed that funding emerging farmers was far too risky, even though the environments natural resources can act as a key asset of livelihood strategy here in South Africa.