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Exploring the Karoo: An Adventure with Director Justine Patterson

Karoo, what a fire-breathing adventure!

The team set out in the peak of summer to film a documentary centered around regenerative farming, showcasing how it combats climate change and creates a more sustainable future for South African agriculture. And although the heat was intense, we found ourselves in love with the endless mountain peaks, the stunning animals, and most of all, the people. 

My team and I were honoured to be welcomed into the homes of the local farmers, where they gave us a living off-the-land experience. It was definitely some of the best home-cooked food I have ever had (sorry, mommy). It was a truly humbling and wholesome experience to have been able to sit at their dinner tables and listen to their passion and dedication to their work, despite the immense challenges they face.I guess farmers and filmmakers have that in common.

In the face of the scorching heat, what kept us motivated was understanding the importance of the story we were telling. Climate change has left the land in a desperate condition, with whole dams having evaporated and soil degradation that could be seen high up from our drone, but instead of looking at the area as a lost cause, we found ourselves experiencing the unique beauty of the Karoo that is worth fighting for.

Personally, I loved visiting Camdeboo National Park to get a closer look at the local fauna and flora, which was breathtaking. My favourite encounter was a mother and baby Kudu between the trees, looking at me as curiously as I was looking at them. 

I loved standing on top of a mountain to see a mixture of vast open plains and mountain peaks that made me pause and do some introspection, realising how little I am but how grateful I am to be in this great and beautifully created world.

Apart from the natural beauty, there were some quaint man-made wonders we got to behold, most notably Graaff-Reinet’s Dutch Reformed Church and, of course, the windmill dams. One of the most memorable moments on this trip for me was taking my eyes off the viewfinder to see my producer getting her head dunked into a dam! I followed shortly after with a full-body submersion.

In the face of global climate challenges, it's crucial for us to initiate change from within, and there are numerous avenues through which we can achieve this. Understanding the power and influence of film can serve as a potent tool to inspire more people to fight for the preservation and sustainability of the future of this beautiful, spirited place in the heart of South Africa.


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