Wayne Mansfield went from humble beginnings to establishing his own lemon farm outside Paarl. Supplied
Cape Town - The establishment of a lemon farm just outside Paarl came about after the owner spent years selling fruit with his father at the Cape Town market.

Wayne Mansfield, who grew up in Pniel, outside Stellenbosch, is proud to have his own farm today, known as Fruit Field Farming, after years of being a hawker where he would collect fruit from Fairview Farm and sell it at various markets.

Mansfield said: “My father was a salesman and hawker at Cape Town market and I would always go with him to sell from the age of 16. He taught me how to sell and negotiate with people. My father eventually gave me my own bakkie to go around to different farms and buy fruit to sell at the markets.”

In 2006, Mansfield started picking lemons at the nearby Fairview Wine and Cheese Farm, where he met Donald Matton, who encouraged him to consider farming lemons.

Mansfield said that when he looks back, he realises how much they have struggled and feels fortunate to be where he is today.

He received the Agricultural Excellence Award from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries last month and the Agricultural Writers South Africa Award last year in the category, Western Cape New Entrant Into Commercial Agriculture.

Mansfield chose to plant lemons because he saw it was potentially a good market. The farm he started on already had lemon trees planted.

In the first year, 31 tons of lemons were exported to countries in Europe, the Middle East and Far East. In the second year, exports rocketed to 163 tons.

The farm used to produce Grade 3 lemons, but after careful and intensive development, it now produces Grade 1 Eureka cultivar lemons.

“It was difficult to switch from being a hawker to managing your own farm. Managing everything on my own was a bit of struggle but there were places and people that educated me,” said Mansfield.

He said his success would not have been possible without the help of Charles Back, owner of Fairview, that lent the farm equipment and also paid staff on Mansfield’s farm during the first year of farming in 2015.

He has applied for the SAB Foundation Tholoana Programme, which invests in entrepreneurs who show a commitment to growing the South African economy.

@Sukainaish

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Cape Argus