If you saw him on a tractor ploughing the fields or harvesting grapes his life may seem ordinary. But Christie Davids has beaten the odds by proving time and time again that hard work and perseverance pays off.
“I’m a farm boy,” the 54-year-old agriworker says proudly when asked about his life growing up on Packwood Farm in Franschhoek, where his parents worked and lived.
“I was born on 6 December 1964. We were raised on the farm and knew nothing about the city life. We grew up with candle light, with no electricity and I accepted that I was a farm boy,” he says.
Davids had high hopes of studying law and dreamed about becoming an advocate one day. These dreams were, however, short-lived due to the political tension and unrest in South Africa at the time and the fact that his parents, who were both agriworkers at the time, could not afford to send him to a tertiary institution.
In the mid 1970’s, when he was almost half way through his high school education at Klein Nederburg Secondary school in Paarl, Davids had to swap his school books for the tough life as a general worker on one of Anglo American Farms’ farms in Boschendal where his father, John Chrisjan, was a foreman.
It took him two years to complete three subjects per year, but Davids’ unwavering determination and hunger for success drove him to matriculate through night school at Kylemore High School in 1978. His deep roots in agriculture and experience working on a farm quickly changed Davids’ ambitions from law to farming. This is when he enrolled at Elsenburg Agricultural College, where he completed a year in Pomology (the science of fruit-growing), which included subjects such as fruit production and animal husbandry.
Davids spent 18 years building his agriculture career at Anglo American Farms.
He went from general worker to pest controller to tractor driver and eventually got a foreman’s position. However, in 2000 it all came to a halt when the company he worked for had to sell off a number of farms, forcing them to retrench personnel.
Fortunately, his experience led him to Duke Farms where he was employed as an operational manager. In October 2008, Davids applied to work at L’Ormarins Estate and despite having to start from the bottom again as a general worker, he slowly rebuilt his career. He made quite a name for himself by bagging a number of agriworker awards.
In 2012 he won the title “Vineyard Employee of the Year”, followed by the prestigious Agri Employee of the Year in the Franschhoek Region in 2014. He also completed his diploma in farm management that same year.
It didn’t stop there. In November 2016 he was a finalist in the Western Cape Agri-awards in the junior management category and ultimately crowned the regional winner of this category in that year. Two years later he participated in this competition again and was selected as a finalist and ultimately walked away as the regional winner in the middle management category.
“I’m just happy that agriworkers are being recognised for their contribution towards our economy and country. I consider my contribution to the agriculture sector as important.” – Christie Davids
Winning these awards left Davids yearning for more. “It wasn’t enough for me to just win these awards, I saw the opportunities in the sector.” When he is not fulfilling his duties on the farm, Davids consults for a neighbouring farm, Laurelin Farms in Franschhoek. Aware of Davids’ farming aspirations the farm owner, Irmela Alberts, offered him five hectares on which he now farms.
“Being able to farm on this piece of land was something that my heart always desired. I knew I would never have been able to afford to buy my own land, but with this opportunity I can now farm,” says Davids.
While farming is his first love, Davids is also a rugby enthusiast, boasting that in his “younger days” he played a good game too. This father of two and dedicated family man is also a big jazz lover who plays the base guitar in a popular local jazz band, the Dennegeurs.
As an emerging farmer Davids dreams of growing his career from agriworker to entrepreneur and owning a small farm of his own one day. Nothing makes him prouder than being able to represent his fellow agriworkers. He hopes to use the various platforms to inspire others and to encourage them to also strive to do better and be better in their careers in the agricultural environment.