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Blossoming Ruby Star Plum Trees Surrounding Jason Baartman

The leader of the band

Text and picture by Gerrit Rautenbach

Jason Baartman is a man who lives passionately for agriculture. At first, he sometimes wondered why he didn’t opt for something like law or engineering or the like. Maybe he felt inferior about being an agri worker initially, but that got sorted out solidly in due time. We’ll get to that shortly.

Be that as it may, in 2017 Jason completed his farming course at Boland College and embarked on his practical year at Panorama Farms near Tulbagh. During this time he saw a recruitment advertisement for work on Laastedrif, applied, got the job and then his future started. As a nurseryman.

Another event that opened many doors for Jason was his participation in Agri’s Got Talent (AGT) in 2017 where he came second. “My mom loves music and that’s how it became part of me. The rapping, or “rymklets” as we call it, started with me in primary school. With silly little rhymes!” Jason explains. The awesome thing is, that while many AGT contestants cover famous songs, Jason writes all his “rymklets” lyrics himself. And sort out his own compositions.

Asking him if he would compete again because he came second and deservedly claimed first prize, he just laughed shyly. “No, I won’t. Not that I’m not interested, but I know there are many people out there who need this opportunity much more than me. I have learnt so much through it. I can move on with this knowledge. Other people need the same learning school now. All I’m doing now is urging other people to experience what I have experienced.”

At first, his music was only a hobby. But being chosen to partake in AGT took it all to the next level. The project teaches you values about yourself, and how you see yourself, it boosts your confidence and improves your self-worth, he says. “Suddenly you realise, although you come from the farm, I have a place in this life, in this world. A significant place that only I can fill. After AGT, I walked into life with no shame that I didn’t become a layer or engineer or something. That’s when I totally accepted I am at the best place I can be. I’m in agriculture. It’s the industry the world needs the most. Because without it, there won’t be any food.”

Whether it is music, agriculture or understanding life, Jason is someone who always wants to know more. His mentor and manager at the time, Philippus Hauptfleisch, saw that and earmarked him to do the Hortgro leadership course for production managers in 2022. Jason says the outcome of this course is phenomenal. It helped him understand human relationships so much better, and how to handle conflict when working with such an array of different people.  He uses the techniques he has been taught in the course. “ And you know what, they work!”

Today Jason is an established “rymkletser” going from strength to strength, still performing at regular intervals. For instance, he is part of the prestigious ATKV-Cresendo project and performs regularly at other events. Today Jason is also an established production manager managing up to 50 workers in the nursery and as many as 10 picking teams during harvest time.

Should you ask him what the two events, AGT and the leadership course for production managers taught him and how one complimented the other, his answer is immediate. “AGT taught me to take leadership of myself, of who I am and where I come from while the leadership course taught me to take leadership of my team. I became a leader. In both cases, it went from not believing you can to knowing you can. And proving it.”

Young Jason Baartman certainly is the leader of the band:

Maar moenie laat die slegte dinge aan jou vassit nie, jou afsit nie.
Kyk hieso my dag is die …
Om produkte te bring wat nie op die rak is nie.
Vorentoe move my broe daai’s die plan.
Vra elke boer of as jy nie wil glo vra vir Jan …
Groot sukses is harde werk wat jy beplan!

Read more good news stories in New Roots.

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