Farming never crossed Robert Patson’s mind growing up. Patson, who was born and raised in Northpine in the Western Cape, says most people he knew back then were agricultural workers and they never owned farms.
The ethical chicken farmer joins Food for Mzansi co-founder Ivor Price and editor Dawn Noemdoe in this week’s Farmer’s Inside Track Podcast episode. He emphasises that moving to Gauteng and travelling the world completely changed his perspective and everything seemed possible thereafter.
After matric, the young farmer moved to the UK to work in sales before he joined the military through the Commonwealth. “When I joined the military, I saw the most beautiful places and I also found myself in the most horrible places in the world,” he says. Travelling broadened his horizons and made everything more achievable. “It was so much better than being stuck in Cape Town with blinkers on.”
In the podcast, the ethical chicken breeder and owner of Happy Land Farm in Gauteng recalls a time when he was a paratrooper in Afghanistan when they were stuck without resources or any food to eat. A nearby farmer sold the soldiers three chickens and, according to Patson, they were the skinniest chickens he’d ever seen, but the most delicious meal he has ever tasted.
Patson admits that the transition from the military to becoming a farmer didn’t happen overnight. After his time as a paratrooper he returned to Mzansi to work in sales again. The young farmer then discovered a documentary that changed his life forever.
“After watching the documentary, that was the real awakening and there was no turning back.” Patson had a completely different idea about where his food came from, but after watching the documentary, he made it his mission to change what he consumed and what he fed his family.
The young farmer boasts that his chickens and animals on his farm are definitely happy and continue to live in harmony. His only wish “is to do it on a much bigger scale so that I don’t have to limit their happiness”.
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