All the fresh produce that you order from Real Fresh Veg will always be:
– organically grown (with 3rd-party or PGS certification, always with traceability, never just stated). Residue-free only applies to items from farms that are either in-conversion to becoming organic or providing produce that is lab-tested to be free of residues. We will always 1) indicate such items on the website and 2) work to replace these items with organic produce as soon as possible.
– locally farmed, either by the Food Forest Farm (that’s us) or other small-scale organic farmers in the greater Cape Town area. (Exceptions are the fruit, which sometimes come from as far as the Cederberg or Greyton.)
– ethically produced, meaning that workers earn as much or more than the market average to produce your food. (The Food Forest Farm has also started to encourage it’s employees to grow produce on its land cost-free, which they can sell directly themselves, should they choose to directly experience and develop a small, agricultural business. Seeds, tools, space, fertiliser and knowledge are provided, all that is required of the employee is a bit of time and initiative.)
What is meant by ‘organic’?
The standard definition of organic that most of us have a version of in our heads, is that
– No pesticides or herbicides (‘poisons’) and
– No artificial fertilizers
are allowed to be used.
While this is definitely true, organic farming is about much more than that. The above statements only exclude certain things to avoid negative effects, while the whole of organic agriculture is more about implementing practices that increase positive effects (yes, even the many MANY pages of regulatory guidelines come down to this).
Organic farmers, by definition of various countries’ regulatory bodies, should:
– Improve agricultural soil health
- By using compost and manure to fertilise soils
- By rotating crops to benefit soil health and prevent pest build-up
- By the use of mulch and other water-loss prevention methods
– Maintain an ecological balance with the natural environment
- By creating (if not naturally present) refuge for frogs, beetles and insects that would naturally occur in the area of agricultural practice
- By allowing refuge in crop residue for wild animals by letting land remain fallow for certain periods of time
The major prohibitive factor for small farms to acquire internationally recognised organic certification, is the yearly financial cost, which is unattainable for most small farms within the first 5 – 10 years of it’s existence.
There is, however, an internationally recognised and accredited costless organic certification system that is growing every year, called the Participatory Guarantee System (or PGS).
Rather than side-lining the small, start-up farmer into using environmentally and human harming methods of food production, IFOAM, the worldwide umbrella organisation for the organic movement, set up PGS for small, start-up farmers to still get the same standard of organic certification as a 50 hectare farm producing for the export market.
Three of the farms that supply produce for your weekly order are PGS accredited and the others (like the Food Forest Farm) are in the process of application.
Feel free to contact us for any specific questions or comments or for visit to the farm to come see the food-growing in action.
And here are our farming methods in summary:
- intensively-spaced vegetable crops planted on raised beds
- mixture of drip and overhead irrigation
- mulching with straw of self-grown cover crops
- fertilisation by top-dressing with vermi-compost, guano pellets, bone meal or rock dust, where required. Also foliar application of liquid guano or fermented kelp sprays
- pest control by interplanting, crop rotation, pheromone lures and the application of neem and pyrethrum, where needed
- chickens and geese rotated over fallow land to fertilise and consume crop residues
- run-off water utilised by planting green manure in drainage ditches
- the natural soil of the area is a very sandy loam from 0.1 to about 2 meter deep as you move downhill, on top of a clay bank of undefined depth. Dominant wind is from the East and follows the valley-like flow of the land, lying at a low point in the landscape, resulting in cooler temperatures.