What do you get when you mix one part each of mud, seedlings and a bright young mind? A future crop farmer, of course. Rearabilwe Mogale is only 12 but has a gardening passion that he hopes will one day see him reach his dreams of becoming a landowner.
Born to a lineage of avid gardeners, it was no surprise that the 12-year-old would follow suit, says his mother, Lesego Mogale.
Guided by grandmother Nelly Mogale, the rising gardener has successfully planted his own veggies, including mielies, butternuts and beans.
While he may come from a family with green fingers, Rearabilwe says it was a local telenovela that inspired him to pursue vegetable gardening.
“Farming teaches us responsibility; that you must take care of others and grow your own food to save money.”
However, he does flip the script on his future career every now and then, his mother adds.
On some days he looks to the stars and imagines himself as an astronaut, and on other days he is a little pastry chef baking up a storm with his grandmother.
Lesego says, “He is allowed to be a child and he is allowed to be serious. I think in the past five years he has changed career paths 20 times. I bought a telescope because he wanted to be an astronaut. We let him be himself in the house, now we are into plants and farming.”
Rearabilwe has a wide range of interests, his proud mother adds.
“One minute he is in the kitchen helping his grandmother bake, the next he is gardening. Five minutes later he will be in front of the TV watching movies, so he dabbles in everything.”
Rearabilwe dreams about owning a plot of land one day. “I want to be a farmer, a veterinarian, a doctor and a chef. I want to be a lot of things,” he says.
Teach them young
Farming and home gardening should be considered a basic life skill, mommy Lesego believes. “It was more about teaching him how to use his own hands and not having to depend on other things or people. He must always know that he has two hands and a brain, so he should use it.”
She goes on to explain that “vegetable gardening is a financially savvy thing. You teach them to be smart about their money choices. You plant those vegetables, and you don’t have to spend money to go and buy them.”
And what about resources like compost? Make your own, Lesego adds. This way you are killing two birds with one stone: nipping food wastage in the bud and producing food for the plants in your home garden.
“You can make it (compost). You do not have to buy anything and everything. Whatever rots in your house, you can have a designated area where you just pile it there and make compost. Every little thing that you use can help you in the long run.”
While they may be from a family of home gardeners, the Mogales rarely sell what is produced in their garden.
“It started with us just wanting our own vegetables and not having to travel to go buy it. Back then, we used to plant tomatoes and carrots and an assortment of veggies. We started toning it down a bit,” she says.
“If there is a lot of produce, we do share it with our neighbours. I do remember this one year where we had an excess of tomatoes. We gave it to our neighbours and started selling them too because it was just a lot.”