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Saul En Bye

There is a lot of Saul

Saul Lintnaar from the Graaff Fruit Farm, Lushof, was a finalist at the Deciduous Fruit Industry Gala Awards 2019 in the category “Advanced Agricultural Worker”. Although he didn’t win this one, he has many awards under his belt. However, awards are not what makes him a winner, but it’s all about the way he has mastered the concept of paying it forward. Gerrit Rautenbach reports.  

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Saul not knowing what to do. He works independently, is very knowledgeable, headstrong and passionate,” says Danie Viljoen, Farm Manager of Lushof about Saul Lintnaar, one of his production managers. “His go-getter attitude has caused friction in the past and sometimes still does, but all in all, his energy and savvy have earned my trust over the years. My weakness is that I procrastinate; he doesn’t …”

Saul was born in the Warm Bokkeveld on the farm Agterfontein where he grew up and went to school. During all of Saul’s schooling years, farming was not on his mind as a career. He was going to study Law, but after matric he threw a curveball by joining the army for three years, ending up on the border at Oshakati in the then South-West Africa. After Namibia’s independence in 1990, the SADF withdrew and Saul ended up doing security work in Cape Town for another year, still not considering farming, although when his mother ended up alone on the farm Loxtonia he went back to take care of her. He started working, but not whole-heartedly.

“One day, when we started planting potatoes, something happened. You know, when you plough the land, you get that warm smell of the soil. A very specific, wonderful smell. Suddenly I realised this is something I’ve missed for a long time. The emotion was so strong that I had to ask my mother why that was.

“She just smiled with a knowing look in her eyes, explaining that, when I was born 22 years ago, she was a worker on Agterfontein and could not afford not to work. Those years there wasn’t maternity leave for farmworkers, so she took me with her and put me under a tree next to the potato field. Every time, after planting a row, she returned to breastfeed me. My nose would be full of that freshly ploughed soil!” The association with the smell, the security of a mother being there and feeding him was the spark that brought Saul’s heart back to the farm. It was his homecoming.

Saul started working as an ordinary farm worker for R60 a week and had a lot of objections from the rest of the community because he had matric, did three years army duty, worked in Cape Town and yet there he was, working with unschooled labour.

“But I had my reasons. I had to earn my keep, couldn’t jump in ahead of no one. That would have been unfair. I progressed to irrigation and then discovered I was a good pest scout. The first scouting competition I came second. In the two subsequent years, I was the champion pest scouter on the farm. After earning colleagues’ respect, I responded to a recruitment advertisement and joined Lushof as a total outsider. I guess I love challenges.”

Saul is headstrong, he is fair, an immensely hard worker, but above all Saul is grateful. At first, he did not understand where it came from, but as he progressed through the ranks it became evident that he was always there for the underdog; always scheming on how to help people that are not rooted in something they can believe in.

It’s all about the bees and the balls

As part of his job through the years, he had to move beehives into certain orchards where they performed as pollinators. “That’s where this bee bug bit me, but I’ve also been stung a few times! Bees are big business for prune, apple and pear farmers. No bees, no crop. So I asked Danie if I could get involved in supplying bees for pollination and he said yes. It’s only my brother, a friend and myself managing it in my own section on the farm. We started small and financed ourselves. Every year, I’d take my bonus and buy a few hives. Today we have 40 and need a lot of hands to move them from orchard to orchard during pollination season.”

That’s when he started involving unemployed kids from the community to help him. They’re getting good at it and it is good to be able to help them earn some money, he reckons. They’re keen and it keeps them off the streets and away from being stung by the bad stuff.

Rugby is another example of Saul’s unique brand of involvement with the youth. His love for the game started early as his much older brother, Sors, played the game. Every boy must have a hero. He attended almost every game Ouboet played. With the coming of TV, it broadened his rugby horizons to include Boland, Western Province and his ultimate heroes, the Springboks.

“I cannot understand how any born and bred South African can support the All Blacks. It doesn’t make sense. But the Young Black Arrows, a local farm team, is a different story. After I stopped playing myself, I became their team manager.” Managing the team was ok, but Saul was eager to coach and empowered himself at Boland Rugby Union in Wellington by completing Coaching Level One and Two courses. That’s when he formed The Young Eagles, Lushof’s own team. In their first two years, they ended up champions of the local league. The bigger clubs then started to take notice of the quality of players Saul turned out and would make them better offers.

“It’s ok, as long as I can help develop more kids, I’m happy, they can move on. It so amazing to see these youngsters joining in, falling in love with the game, doing something healthy and positive with their lives. Becoming competitive for the right reasons.”

Some of his players played for Hamlet, winning the Witz Central league. The Boland Rugby Union is well aware of all these local leagues, constantly scouting for new talent. Who knows, Saul might have laid the foundation for a future Springbok or two, but the real reward for him is to involve youngsters in something positive.

Saul’s focus is always on helping others. Often, peoples’ drive to help others springs from experiencing suffering yourself. This, however, is not the case with Saul. Although his father died when he was only two and his mother never remarried, he grew up with security, never wanting and without suffering. The reason for that is Sors, his brother. His Ouboet. Sors is 12 years older than Saul and sacrificed his own future by leaving school to go and provide for the family. Which he did well.

In return Saul now passes that goodwill his brother created on to help other people live a bit better, having a bit more. From a little bit of bee money to playing for the Young Arrows.

“Life is in a way like rugby, isn’t it? Making the right passes, passing on the good energy …”

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