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Organic Status

erica flower
Cape Mountain Oil's products have for over ten years been registered as organic with the German certifier, BCS-Oko Guarantie in accordance with Article 29 of EU Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 under reference number ZA-BIO-141.  We have allowed this certification to lapse, as we are no longer convinced that certification is useful or necessary.  We continue to farm strictly organically and our customers base knows our approach to farming.  We remain committed to organic principles and farm responsibly (beyond the requirements of certification) inr respect of all our produce.  We are about to launch a range of organically-farmed bee-friendly citrus - hopefully we are up to this challenge !

The conditions for organic farming are stringent and relate to all aspects of the farming operation, including:

(a)     origin of plant material: non-organic root stock has a three year conversion period before it can be considered for organic certification.  Thus any rootstock or seedlings that are bought from external nurseries have to undergo a conversion process before they can be included in the farm's list of organic produce.  We make our own seedlings on the farm, in a nursery, taken from mother blocks that are registered as organic.  The olive trees have undergone a three year conversion process, as their source was not originally organic.  All plants on the farm are now recognised as organic. 

(b)    nutrition:  the source of all nutrition must be disclosed and must be itself an acceptable organic supplier.  We use Kraggroei (a chicken manure based fertiliser that, in pelletised form, is known as Bounce Back) and the Talborne range of organic fertilisers (3:1:5, 4:1:5 and Bone Meal).  We also produce our own horse and cow manure.  We manufacture batches of compost tea (using recipes that produce known quantities of each essential elements) which is then delivered though the drip irrigators directly to the plant through the drip irrigation lines;

(c)    pest and fungus control:  no conventional pesticides and fungicides can be used.  Fortunately, organic farming develops plants that are robust and capable of withstanding most pests.  Occasional outbreaks of problematic organisms are dealt with using organic products such as Bio-Neem - this includes olive beetle on the olive trees and mieliebug on the buchu plants;

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(d)    weed control:  weed control is an essential part of any farming operation, particularly where small seedlings are involved, as weeds inhibit growth both at sub-soil and above-soil levels.  We experience extremely high levels of weed growth, particularly from steenbokgras, kweek, nutgrass and broadleaf weeds.  No conventional herbicides can be used in organic farming.  Most of our weeding is done by hand, although we also use a product called BioWeed, which is a highly corrosive mixture of plant acids that is effective against steenbokgras and certain other problem weeds.  Mulching (using wood chips and old straw) is an essential part of the weed control program.  Weed control remains one of the biggest challenges facing organic farmers.

Organic farming is challenging and can be hard at times: labour costs are generally higher and the pace of development tends to be slower than would be the case with conventional farming methods.  However, there are a number of benefits to organic farming:  the price that products can fetch is consistently higher and the demand for product remains constant.  An example is agathosma betulina (buchu), where the demand for organic oil remains high despite the waning market for the conventionally produced oil. 

But there are many ancillary benefits as well: most notable on Rockhaven Farm has been the return of birdlife.  While Rockhaven was farmed conventionally, the apple orchards tended to be sterile, with little insect life and accordingly no birdlife.  With the conversion to organic farming, we have been delighted to see the return of birdlife to the farm in huge numbers.  The orchards are filled with ladybirds (who control aphids and other pests) and spiders (who control flies).  This has a knock-on effect, attracting reptiles, birds and smaller mammals.


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