Roadtrip to Elsenburg

This week we have made another leap towards gathering content for our project. After a lot of organising (and re-organising) I managed to secure an interview with Andre Roux, Director of Sustainable Resource Management at the Department of Agriculture. I was excited to dig in and get started, and had started preparing my questions weeks in advance already.

As it would entail an early morning escapade to Stellenbosch, I spent the night at Claudia in Blouberg so we could embark on an early morning mission together.

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Claudia researching away at a restaurant. Credit: Soninke Combrinck

Dinner was Mexican, and we poured over a piece of paper donated by our waiter with a pen that was stuck in his aloe-vera hair. Claudia and I took this time to refine our thumbnails for our website (that is to say, our main topics) and to pick at any new questions we could ask Roux in our interview the next morning. After frozen margaritas (not an apt choice) and Oreo tequila we set off home to further discuss The Aqua Project.


Our alarms went off at 5am and we drearily got up, got dressed and got in the car to set off to Elsenburg. The headquarters of the WEstern Cape Department of Agriculture is settled in a wine valley near Stellenbosch. It was a beautiful morning. We arrived at 7am and had 2 hours to kill, so we took some footage of the location and the surrounding farms.

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Travelling from Blouberg to Elsenburg

After shooting, we settled in to the cafeteria (Claudia had her second cappuccino for the day) and discussed the interview as we watched the sun rise over the Wemmershoek mountains.

We were a bit anxious about our first interview. Okay, more excited to get going. We had brought Claudia’s Nikon and tripod with an external microphone – we were geared to go.

At 9 am we met up with Andre Roux. He invited us into the conference room where we set up for the interview. Our first interview ran smoothly, Claudia conducted and directed us, rearranging to ensure that we got the optimum light and to ensure the audio quality was good.

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Soninke and Andre Roux discussing the impacts of the 2015 drought on farming in South Africa. 

Andre and I had a very interesting conversation. We spoke mostly about how the drought had impacted the Western Cape, and the varying effects it had on established commercial farmers vs. emerging farmers. He enlightened us to the ‘unseen’ effects of climate change, including the pests and the drop in ‘chill units’ which hinders a plant’s production. He also shared some interesting technologies available for ‘conservation farming’ in oppose to ‘conventional farming’. He was passionate about sustainable agriculture and resource management and we managed to get a well of information from him.

The video footage was great. His portion would definitely get a thumbnail of his own. We got a lot of footage that would need careful perusal and editing.

And just like that, the interview was over. Claudia and I packed up and prepared to head back to Cape Town to resume the afternoon’s classes. The process went smoothly and we both played to our strengths. Claudia is a whizz with the camera, and I love having interesting conversations with people. It was a win-win.

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Claudia (left) and Soninke (right) with our visitors badges at Elsenburg. Credit : Soninke Combrinck
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