Jonathan Barry, son of the late Henri Barry, was born in Swellendam and grew up on Lismore farm in the Grootvadersbosch Valley. He went to school in Swellendam and then completed 5 years of degrees and diplomas in the Information Technology field. He moved to England for work and then returned to Cape Town. In 2017, he got married and moved back to Lismore farm. Jonathan and Henri had been growing the business ever since.
Jonathan Barry was recently selected to be on the board of directors for the Sentraal-Suid Co-operative (SSK). Jonathan was honoured to have been nominated and then chosen for a position. He was one of four nominees that were competing for three available seats on the board of directors. Members of the SSK were given the chance to vote on a poll that was open for 48hrs. Jonathan feels very honoured to have been selected for this position, he explained that the other nominees were amazing people, leaders and very capable in their work. He feels that he is a part of the farming community. He says he now must ensure that he does not let SSK down. He hopes to continue the great work that the board has done. The Grootvadersbosch Conservancy congratulates him and is very proud to have a member in such a prestigious position!
Jonathan and Henri worked together to create a conservation conscious farm. Clearing aliens is a task that is especially important, and they have worked hard to eliminate them. The farm is 2600 hectares and 1100 hectares of that is mountainous area. Their large area of natural territory has encouraged their alien clearing efforts. As with many members, the biggest frustration is the speed at which clearing takes place, due to government red tape, but this has not hindered his attempts at clearing. Jonathan especially wants people to understand that alien plants affect the entire community. More aliens mean less water for our homes. He wants everyone to understand this and try their best to eliminate them.
In the last 10 years, the farm has tried to reduce fertilizers and chemicals. They have done this successfully and have reduced their Glyphosate load by 50%, which is quite incredible. They also purchase soil microorganisms for their fields to increase the soil’s health. He explained that to be truly organic or completely bio-friendly would be impossible, there are too many people that need to be fed and farms would not be able to keep up with the demand. They have a no-till approach to minimise disturbance on the soil. He explained that if you keep the soil healthy, it will do what you need it to do. He described the issue in communication between the outside world and farmers. Jonathan has the feeling that the outside world does not understand what is going on in agriculture and are often too quick to judge.
Jonathan stated that a lot of what they do on the farm is because of his father, Henri Barry. He explained that Henri had a massive passion for the environment and the people in the valley. Henri made sure that his business was transparent so that his children could learn and understand how the farm operated, they were given great responsibly. When Henri passed away, the farm continued the same, nothing really changed because he had involved them so much in its day-to-day running.
Finally, he explained that the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy is a role model conservancy, and the work it does is amazing. John, Henri, and everyone else who pioneered it, worked hard to make it what it is today.
GVB Conservancy Staff