Youth Day inspiration: Meet Fred Junior who plans to help feed the children of SA

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Fred Junior MacCarthyis a 12-year-old farmer who harbours dreams of helping feed the children of South Africa.

Junior, as Fred is affectionately known, is the founder and CEO of Junior Farm Park, which seeks to draw young South Africans into commercial farming.  

The Brits-based youngster believes that teaching young people about farming will help end hunger. 

“We celebrate Youth Day to remember how school kids fought for freedom and I want to continue this fight by fighting for freedom from hunger,” says Junior.

“Living in South Africa is difficult when I see other people struggling and hungry.

“Farming allows you to take care of yourself and your family by planting your own food.”

Junior’s ambition is to build a ‘Junior Farm Park’ to teach young visitors about commercial farming and how they can help sustain the environment.

Design plans for the Junior Farm Park have been finalised and Junior is currently seeking funding.

In the meantime, he has launched a Garden School Project to teach children about the basics of growing vegetables.

Explains Junior: “You don’t need to have a big piece of land to farm. Children can collect old tires and plastic bottles and use them for farming carrots or spinach. Or even in the garage if there is enough light or vertical farming does not need any space.”

Reflecting on Youth Day on 16 June, Junior offers his fellow young South African’s this: “Take your studies seriously and start a garden at home so that you can help feed yourself and your family.

“If we want to say bye-bye to hunger, we need to teach as many young people as possible about farming.

“If you want them to know about farming, you need to give them options when they are young because so many young people think that food comes from supermarkets and don’t know anything about farming,” he adds.

Junior credits his father for inspiring and teaching him all about farming as well as never giving up.

“I remember we planted beetroot and peppers one year which were damaged because of hail, which was very upsetting, but my father taught me to just carry on and continue doing what we love.”

The vision of Junior Farm Park is: Resolving the global food crisis and affordability through farming Edutainment.

Their mission is:

  • Fortifying early childhood farming development through exposure to the BIG toys (farming implements)
  • Exposing economic benefits of making farming a career choice
  • Reviving school gardening to promote agriculture and as a source of food in our communities
  • Stimulating backyard farming to conveniently provide households’ nutritional needs
  • Rejuvenating commercial farming in our rural areas

South Africa’s leading petroleum company and convenience services retailer, Engen are so inspired by Junior’s love for farming and his vision for Junior Farm Park and his garden project that it has pledged R20 000 to support Junior’s vision.

The funds will be used to purchase garden forks, rakes and spades, and watering cans and wheelbarrows.

“I love that Engen believes in me and my vision and were the first to come and help,” comments Junior.

“Thanks to Engen, I was grateful to get the chance to visit Nampo last month and take 13 of my friends.

“What I loved about Nampo was learning about modern farming techniques and seeing all the BIG toys.

“I’d love to have the Engen Tractor Museum at Junior Farm Park one day, so that kids can see how much farming has evolved.

“I’d also love to have an Engen garage at Junior Farm Park to supply all the diesel for our BIG toys and lubricants for our agricultural equipment, and jet fuel for our airplanes.”

Twenty years from now Junior says he wants to be a big commercial farmer, with his own plane.

Junior recently started flying lessons and plans to fly to Nampo Harvest Day one day.

“They need to make the airstrip bigger for me,” he laughs. “The best part is that I can get my licence at 16 and there are no traffic cops up in the air.”