HOH /Abalimi Organic Principles
In order to offer you beautiful, healthy, organically grown vegetables we have put in place our own simple organic principles. Abalimi staff members regularly visit the gardens to offer further training, guidance and to ensure that the principles are being followed.
To give you a bit of background:
What is organic?
The very basic term ‘organic’ is used to define a system of farming and processing whereby no artificial chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, or fertilisers are used in the initial production process, and no artificial preservatives, flavourants and colourants are allowed in the further production processes.
What does being organically certified entail?
A third-party inspection authority certifies this process. These authorities are generally European-based at the moment and have strict guidelines and requirements for certification. The initial certification process takes 3 years. The process is also costly for the farmer or processor and yearly re-certification is necessary.
Abalimi/Harvest of Hope Principles:
All vegetables are produced using basic principles of growing:
Build the soil - with the use of compost and manure. Compost comes from us or from government departments and is not yet organically certified. Many gardens make small quantities themselves.
No chemical inputs: We supply organically certified chicken manure and encourage the use of herb teas such as comfrey, which supply extra nutrients. Pest and disease control is managed by picking off pests by hand, through crop rotation, and diversification. The South Easter also does a magnificent job. (If absolutely necessary, an organically certified spray may be used)
Crop Rotation: We assist gardens with production planning to ensure that proper crop rotation is practiced. This means that the same vegetables are not grown in the same soil year after year. Crop rotation helps with pest and disease control, weed control, soil structure and soil fertility.
Windbreaks and Basic Herbs: Many gardens are planted with windbreaks and a selection of herbs for medicinal and culinary use. Abalimi has a long-term plan to introduce the above to all, thus encouraging biodiversity in every garden
Companion planting: We encourage companion planting in every garden. Companion planting involves planting not only vegetables, but also herbs and ornamental plants that attract beneficial insects.
Mulching: We supply mulching material from our garden centres in Khayalitsha and Nyanga. Mulch provides a blanket covering of organic material over beds. It helps to reduce pests and also prevents the ground from drying out and losing water -particularly important with the drying Cape South Easter. We also encourage people to source their own mulching material such as grass cuttings.
Seedling production: For reliable production we buy in seedlings from a non-organic source at this stage, it is not currently possible to source organically certified seedlings. We encourage the gardens to use their own produced seedlings where possible.
Traceability: Traceability (record keeping) is one of the most important principles of organic farming since it enables us to follow the process from seed, to plant, to final product. This is important as, if anything should go wrong, we know at exactly which stage of the process and where. We support the micro-farmers to keep their own records.
Harvesting: A simple harvesting procedure is followed whereby produce is harvested in each individual garden and given a wash with tap water in the garden. It is then collected by a designated vehicle and brought to our pack shed in Philippi where it is washed and scrubbed properly and packed into boxes ready to be distributed to you.
Contamination: In order to manage any risk of contamination from surrounding informal settlements, Abalimi carries out a bi-annual water analysis to check nitrate levels at each micro-farm. This test will pick up early signs of ground water contamination. If there are any signs of contamination, Harvest of Hope will not accept these vegetables. Soil tests are also conducted bi-annually to ensure adequate levels of soil fertility.
WATER POLLUTION IN THE LOTUS RIVER PHILIPPI June, 8th 2012
Last week a story broke on Cape Talk and Eye Witness News concerning polluted river water being used for irrigation in the Philippi horticultural area. Please follow the link below to read the story and response.
The story caused concern amongst many farmer s from the area including ourselves. All irrigation water on Harvest of Hope Farms comes from well points, boreholes or municipal water. No irrigation on any farm is drawn from river water.
We test our water every 6 months to check for ecoli which would indicate pollution of ground water. In response to the story we have conducted water tests which can be emailed to you on request firstname.lastname@example.org
All water taken from Harvest of Hope farms using well points and boreholes was tested by Bemlab in Strand on the 31st of May. There is no problem with ecoli in the water we use for irrigation.