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Piet pampoenpit project


The reality is that the apples he grew didn’t really prevent people being hungry


I’ve always been impressed and inspired by the American legend of Johnny Appleseed.

The real story is slightly different from the legend, but who ever lets the facts get in the way of a good story, for goodness sake?

The legendary Johnny Appleseed had a dream of his country producing so many apples that nobody would ever have to go hungry again.

He was a scrawny man who wandered about dressed in threadbare clothes, planting apple seeds wherever he went and preaching about the need to be kind to all creatures.

There really was a Johnny Appleseed, whose name was John Chapman and who was a nurseryman who established thousands of hectares of apple orchards and died a rich man.

The reality is that the apples he grew didn’t really prevent people being hungry. They were sour little apples used to make cider and applejack.

But let’s forget those minor details for the moment. They probably prevented people from being thirsty.

It’s a story of a man with a dream.

He roams the countryside with the pockets of his ragged coat filled with apple seeds, which he plants in any suitable soil he finds along the sides of the road.

Obviously, not all the seeds will germinate, but some do.

Eventually there are apple trees growing alongside the country roads and any weary traveller can stop for a bite of juicy apple along the way.

My dream is of a South African Johnny Appleseed – let’s call him Piet Pampoenpit – who wanders through the towns and villages (possibly on a bicycle or scooter) with a pocket filled with pumpkin pips, which he presses into the fertile soil wherever he sees a suitable spot.

He plants his pips on traffic islands and in vacant plots, in backyards and the forgotten corners of cemeteries.

His dream is that one day families will be able to pick pumpkins wherever they go, to feed their children and make nutritious pumpkin soup and delicious pumpkin pies and fritters.

One good thing about this is that pumpkin pips are free.

Cooks scoop them out of the pumpkin shell before cooking them.

All that needs to be done is to dry them in the sun and tuck them into your pocket, ready for planting.

Of course, we don’t have to limit our legend to just one Piet Pampoenpit.

We could have hundreds of them out there, looking out for little patches of fertile-looking soil and furtively pressing a pip or two into the earth.

The rainy season has just begun.

What have we got to lose?

Last Laugh

A man went to the bank and asked to borrow R2000 for three weeks while he went overseas on holiday.

“What collateral do you have?” asked the manager.

“I have a Rolls-Royce. I’ll leave it with you until I pay back the money.”

So they parked the car in the bank’s basement and the owner took his R2000.

Three weeks later, he returned, paid back the R2000 plus R100 interest and was about to leave when the manager asked: “Why would a rich man like you need to borrow R2000?”

“Where else could I find secure parking for my Rolls for three weeks for just R100?” he replied.