For Max Ndamane, 2004 was a nightmare year. He lives in Richmond in the Northern Cape Karoo, a small town alongside the N1. Up until that year, he’d had steady contract work for a series of companies that maintained the highway.
But that year, the company said they weren’t renewing his contract. His wife Sophie only had occasional domestic work, and they had two young children, a boy and a girl.
If you’d asked him then what his wildest dream was, it would have been to grow things, maybe even have a plot of land where he could cultivate vegetables and have a few animals. But that was clearly not an option.
So Max began leveraging his handyman skills. He was already well known as someone who could fix washing machines, irons, hairdryers and stoves. But he’d also noticed there were many neglected-looking gardens around town. He first poured all his energies into building up his repair business, and with the money he saved, bought a few garden tools.
But here was another problem. He had no transport. How to carry the tools? So he saved up more, bought himself a bicycle and built a cunning little trailer that fitted onto the rear hub. This carried a spade, a fork, a rake, a pair of secateurs. With this, Max became a one-man garden service.